This month's fundraiser is for Lend 4 Health. Read on and you will see why this is such a great idea and you can help...
Julian (Courtesy of Lend4Health)
When Julian was 18 months old, he was diagnosed with autism. He was spinning the wheels of his cars non-stop, had terrible eczema, wasn't speaking, and wouldn't look when his parents called his name. "I didn’t want to believe this was it," said his mom Rachel from Texas. "I mean, here is my Julian. I thought maybe he’s just a genius and is just interested in finding out how things work? Maybe he just doesn’t like being around lots of people or kids, he’d just rather play alone. I mean don’t kids play alone sometimes?" When he was 3 years old, his parents enrolled him in an Early Childhood Program at the local elementary school. At this point, he was still non-verbal and would only make sounds with constant echolalia. He had limited or no eye contact, bouts of vomiting and loose stools, and would wake up a lot during the night.
Rachel did some research and learned about the biomedical approach to treating autism. She started Julian on a gluten-free/casein-free (GFCF) diet, and she gave him some vitamin supplements, as well as a calcium supplement. "Slowly," said Rachel, "all of that stopped." Julian's eye contact improved, his language came in, and he just kept getting better. At that point, Rachel looked into making an appointment with a DAN! [Defeat Autism Now!] doctor to see what else they could do for Julian, but their insurance wouldn't cover it, and the cost was prohibitive.
Rachel's husband is in the Air Force, and they were soon stationed overseas in the United Kingdom. Soon thereafter, her husband was sent to Afghanistan, and Rachel was left to fend for herself in a new country, with an autistic son, another 1 1/2 year old son, and a husband in a war zone. Rachel made a goal for herself for the next 4 months that her husband would be gone: "My goal is to get Julian to a DAN! Dr. here overseas to help us through this journey to recovery."
Rachel found The Autism Clinic in the UK and heard good things about it and Dr. Tommey. An initial consult was $380, and a follow-up was $91 -- none of it was covered by their insurance. And while $471 wasn't a huge sum of money, it was more than she had at the moment. What to do?
Rachel turned to Lend4Health, a new website that facilitated interest-free "micro-loans" for biomedical autism treatment. Julian and his story were posted on the site, and two weeks later, her loan had been funded. Seventeen people had come together online to contribute to her $471 loan request. One lender was Matt, who follows Lend4Health on Twitter but didn't know Julian or anything about autism. He loaned Rachel $10. Rachel's relative James lent $100. Other relatives, friends, and strangers made loans of $11, $20, and $40. When Rachel called her husband in Afghanistan to give him the good news, he couldn't believe it. "Strangers that we don’t know loaned us money for Julian?" he said. "That’s amazing!” (Although we would say his courageous service in Afghanistan for us -- strangers -- is just as amazing!)
Two weeks later, Rachel had her first appointment at The Autism Clinic, with money in hand from those 17 people who had read her story online and wanted to help. Julian was started on a treatment plan overseen by Dr. Tommey, and Rachel finally had some direction and some hope. She started paying the loan back, interest-free, at $26.16 a month. Sometimes she had extra and would pay back more. A few months later, she had fully repaid her $471 loan to Lend4Health, and all of her 17 lenders got their money back. Many of these lenders then re-loaned their money to another family on Lend4Health.
This past Spring, Rachel's husband came back from Afghanistan, safe. She wrote to her lenders, "Julian is doing great so far on his supplements/vitamins. I see lots of changes happening and all are good. My husband has seen changes physically in Julian too, like no more dark circles under the eyes, speech improvement with lots of new language and sentences he’s using on his own, and he’s so much more social. Really too many things to list in the 4 months he was away, so it’s been good! Your support means so much more than you know. We are forever grateful!! We will continue to keep everyone posted on his progress. Our family thanks you from the bottom of our hearts!!"
Julian (right) with Mom and little brother the day Daddy came home from Afghanistan.
Lend4Health was founded in June 2008 by Tori Tuncan, a mother of two, including one diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, living in the Washington, DC, area. Inspired by the online microlending site Kiva.org, Lend4Health facilitates community-funded, interest-free microloans for optimal health. Currently, Lend4Health is covering loans for the biomedical treatment of children and adults with autism spectrum and related disorders. Other health issues may be covered on Lend4Health in the future.
As of this writing, there are three open loans on Lend4Health for 3 year old Lil' Joe from California, 6 year old Ashleigh from Texas, and 4 year old Will from Canada. To date, 55 loans totaling more than $34,000 have been funded on Lend4Health. Twenty loans have been fully repaid, with more than $8,700 sent back to the lenders. No loans have defaulted.
Lil' Joe's ChipIn:
ChipIn to Help Cover Lend4Health Admin Costs (May 2009 PayPal Fees):
20% of online sales of Dapper Snappers from 7/26 through 8/1 will be donated to help cover administration fees. Yes, I am aware my donation is not tax deductible. But I believe in what she is trying to do. So you don't have to donate permanently. You could just Lend 4 Health. It doesn't take much to help in a big way. If you don't need Dapper Snappers, please consider a loan. You can't beat the results!
This article was provided by Lend4Health because my muse is out of town on vacation or something and my ability to put a couple sentences together is severely diminished.