WAYMART - "Our babies were born 36 hours apart," Courtney Krajkovich said. "I shared a room with her" after Rebecca (Mannick) Park had her little boy, Brody.
Krajkovich is a long-time friend of Park, the loving mother to the five-year-old son. While raising a child can be difficult, Rebecca and her husband Kevin have faced their share of challenges.
Brody suffers from the genetic disorder Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome. He was diagnosed with the disease on May 27, 2008 at just nine months old. She says this syndrome causes "impaired speech, immobility, the need for tube feedings, gout, kidney issues, and, most devastatingly, self-injurious behavior."
To cope with this type of self-injurious behavior, Krajkovich says Brody has had to have "multiple teeth removed" to help him not hurt himself when he compulsively bites. His immobility has also become a problem.
"He can't do anything himself because of his spastic movements," she said. His erratic movements, and tendency to head bang, has caused injury to both his parents in the forms of black eyes. He also wears a helmet to protect his head and arm braces to help keep his hands away from his mouth.
Brody also needs to be repositioned every four hours each night while he sleeps to help prevent sores from developing.
"You can relate to getting up with a newborn," Krajkovich says, "but this is for the rest of his life."
While there are many challenges ahead for this happy, smiley little boy, Krajkovich wants to help make some of those less challenging.
Krajkovich and Christina Pane are the coordinators of the Home Makeover: Waymart Edition for Brody Park. Their goal is "to gather support, materials and labor for an addition" to the Park's home.
She says that while most of the labor is accounted for, they are in need of materials. A recent donation was made by Dyberry Sand and Gravel, which donated all the gravel for the foundation of the addition.
For example, taking a bath is becoming increasingly difficult in the current home. The bathroom is on the second floor, and he must be lifted in and out of a standard tub.
"It's a constant obstacle course," she said.
In the addition, there will be a handicap accessible bathroom along with a bedroom for Brody with hardwood floors built on to the first floor of the home.
"He uses a wheelchair for all his movement," she said. Aside from his wheelchair, "he loves to use his equipment." This equipment includes a stander, which supports his body. He also has some toys and tables that are made for him that are difficult to use because they currently take up too much room.
Page 2 of 2 - "We really want to give him a spot he could really set up to be catered to his needs."
While Brody and his loving family face daily challenges and struggles, he is very much involved in life.
He currently attends a pre-kindergarten program where he is able to socialize and interact with his peers.
"He is very interactive," she said. "He is one smart cookie."
Brody also has quite the sense of humor that manifests in the from of lovingly teasing his mother. His dad "is really great with him," and loves to take his son on outdoor activities. "He just loves fishing and hunting," she said. Another favorite activity is riding the tractor and mowing the lawn with his grandfather.
With all that Brody has facing him, Krajkowski says she knows that "she can't take the disease away, but I can make it easier for him."
If everything moves forward as planned, the groundbreaking should be sometime in June 2013. "We hope to have 90 percent of things in place by the end of May."
If you would like to donate, or get involved in building Brody a better bedroom, you can find them on Facebook at Home Makewover: Waymart Edition for Brody Park. You can also call Krajkovich at 470-0077 or Pane 229-0211. Monetary donations can be made to the "Brody Park Fund" at the Wayne Bank or may be mailed to Kathy Merring c/o The Brody Park Fund at 1233 Lake Ariel Highway, Lake Ariel PA 18436. Please make checks payable to "Brody Park Fund."
There is also a blog , www.alife4brody.com, that follows his journey to live a full life.