Child of the Month: December 2013

December 2013: Brooke

Brooke ended her first evening at the Friday Night Club telling us she met a friend; something we had never heard her say before.

Brooke & Natalie
Brooke with Friday Night Club Founder Natalie Cernius

At 15 months of age, we learned our daughter Brooke would have challenges ahead of her. Now 16 and with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, social interactions with peers are often difficult and distressing for her, many times leading to seclusion. As she entered her teen years, Brooke saw her sister socialize with friends and wanted to participate in “teenage” activities, but it was difficult to find a place where she would fit in. We knew there were many teens for Brooke to meet, there was just nowhere for this to take place. As parents, this affected us deeply. Then two years ago, through United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County (UCP-OC), we heard about the Friday Night Club.

Friday Night Club opened Brooke’s world. This bi-weekly event is a place where teens with disabilities feel welcomed and accepted. It gives teens with or without disabilities the opportunity to play games, watch movies, sing karaoke and simply spend time with one another in an inclusive and fun environment. Friday Night Club gives teens with special needs something to look forward to.

Every person deserves a place to belong and friends to share in their journey, and Brooke now has that. This club brought out positive emotions in Brooke we had never seen, and more than anything we see self-confidence. In addition to Friday Night Club, Brooke looks forward to UCP-OC’s therapeutic fitness and music classes, as well as respite with a trained UCP-OC employee, which also gives us a much needed break. UCP-OC has given our daughter a home.

Kershberg family
Kershberg Family

With your help, Brooke can continue to look forward to Friday Night Club and the other UCP-OC services she and nearly 4,000 Orange County children and families utilize throughout the year. The Friday Night Club is just one of the many programs UCP-OC offers to end the isolation that so many children and teens with special needs feel. Programs at UCP-OC serve the critical developmental, social, and emotional needs of children and teens with disabilities and provide much-needed support to parents and caregivers, including education and skilled childcare.

We invite you to join us in giving back to UCP-OC this season in gratitude for all UCP-OC has done for our daughter and her new friends. We are grateful for a place where teens can feel accepted for who they are. 

UCP-OC relies on your generosity to fill these critical gaps in services. Children, teenagers and young adults with special needs are a growing demographic in Orange County, and are often isolated and overlooked. Together we can foster friendship and acceptance for all children with disabilities in Orange County. Please help children and teens live a Life Without Limits by sending in your gift or going online to today.

Thank you for making a difference in the life of Brooke and her friends at UCP-OC.

Hilary & Mark Kershberg

P.S. Visit to make a gift today and watch Brooke’s video of her journey to friendship.

Child of the Month: December 2012

December 2012: Wyatt

This month we are celebrating Wyatt, AND we want to share with you his video. In this video you can see his family’s journey and the difference UCP-OC has made in Wyatt’s life.

Please consider making a gift to UCP-OC this season to make a differentce in the life of a child. You can make your gift at

Final Holiday Fundraising Update

Happy New Year UCP-OC families!

I hope you all had a relaxing holiday that was filled with copious amounts of food and fantastic memories with family and friends. After spending time with my family, I returned to our office only to be humbled by the response of our holiday letter.

This holiday season we were blessed to work with an incredible family with a very special 2 year-old boy named Granden. Many of you that come to our facility have had the pleasure of meeting this dynamic boy running around our lobby. Even after meeting with the family, seeing Granden on a daily basis and working countless hours on the video and letter I am still touched every time I run into him and he yells “hi!” at me. He, and so many of the children that come to UCP-OC, have made my time as the Marketing and Development Coordinator here so memorable and special. I am so thankful for the daily reminder of the big picture of why we are here. UCP-OC exists so that children can reach their full potential and live the quality of life that every parent hopes for their child. The overwhelming response to our Holiday Letter about Granden shows that others believe in our cause as well and are ready to support us.  

So, with no further ado, I have the pleasure of sharing the wonderful news of the outcome of our Holiday Fundraising! Thanks to the generosity of our many supportive families, staff and donors we were able to bring in a record-breaking:


This has brought us so much closer to our Annual Giving goal of $40,000 and our Organization’s goal of $1.3 million to continue serving the children in Orange County.

 Thank you for your continued support of UCP-OC.


Elizabeth Wylie, and the entire UCP-OC Staff

If you did not have the opportunity to see the video of Granden that spoke to the hearts of our many families and donors you can view it below or on our website

Our Holiday Story: Granden

New Year’s brings memories of laughter, family and celebration. It’s not a time where one expects to hear “Your child has Jeune Syndrome,” a rare genetic disease where 60% of cases do not live past the age of two. However, on New Year’s Eve 2009 Frank and Geri Kate heard this news, and were faced with the daunting odds, that their baby boy, Granden, would not live past two.

“There is fear in uncertainty” Geri Kate, Granden’s mother, recalls thinking on that fateful evening. From that moment on their life has been a race to provide Granden with the services and therapy he needs to not only survive, but to thrive.

  Jeune Syndrome affects the growth of long bones, limbs and ribs. This can have serious side effects, and for Granden it has resulted in a restrictive lung disorder. His small rib cage restricts his lungs from expanding, causing him to tire easily and averting him from crawling. This crowding of his organs has also caused a reflux creating an aversion to food. Just 3 months-old, and Granden was diagnosed with a failure to thrive.

  Seeking Answers, Regional Center directed Frank and Geri Kate to United Cerebral Palsy, UCP-OC, for Early Intervention, education and family support. Due to many delays in his motor development and his inability to roll over, UCP-OC’s therapy team initially evaluated 8 month-old Granden with the physical ability of a 2 month-old. With Granden’s failure to thrive affecting his health, the team at UCP-OC acted immediately. 

This year  Granden has celebrated his second birthday, and graduated physical therapy at UCP-OC!  He is an active thriving typical toddler who loves to run, climb and explore.  Each milestone  enables his family to celebrate a longer, happier and more healthful future for Granden!  

It is often complex for parents to navigate the fragmented system of care for children with special needs.  UCP-OC helps to simplify the process for parents like Geri Kate and Frank by providing access to comprehensive services in one location.  Since 1954, UCP-OC has ensured that dreams are met, talents are explored and stories of children living a life without limits are told.


“We are giving back to UCP-OC this holiday season in gratitude for the difference they have made in our family’s life. UCP-OC is helping Granden beat the odds. We’re all working together to help our son live a Life Without Limits.”

– Frank and Geri Kate

Continued deep budget cuts have lead to a lack of funding for Early Intervention programs across California. Without your support these critical programs that help children like Granden will not continue. Every child deserves to live a Life Without Limits, and your donation will help make this happen.

By sending in your gift or going online at, you can make an impact on a child’s life today.  

Thank you for making a difference in the life of a child!

Make sure to view Granden’s Story via video on our website.