‘Tis the season to be thankful

After Thanksgiving comes and goes, it seems like the last few weeks of the year are a blur of holiday parties, shiny decorations, and whole days devoted to shopping—who’s in for Saving Sunday 2017? But, amidst the busyness of bringing about holiday cheer, we tend not to notice the moments and milestones that have made the past year worth celebrating.

One of those moments came for us just last week on December 6th, more commonly known as Colorado Gives Day. 45 people—employees, friends, and community members—decided to take a break from online shopping and divert their money to some very worthy recipients. A total of $7,327 was given to the SUN Foundation which will directly support the families served by Developmental Pathways. If you’re one of those 45, we want to say thank you. Thank you for giving the people we serve the priceless gift of generosity.

For those who may have missed the opportunity to give on Colorado Gives Day, the invitation to participate in our mission to change lives and strengthen communities still stands. And if you’re wondering, How will my gift be used? Can this money really make a difference?, or Who are the people benefiting from my gift? we ask that you meet the Marquez family, pictured below. They allowed us to be part of their family’s story and because of that, our heart has grown a few sizes in the past few weeks. We think yours will too.

Dear Friend of Developmental Pathways the SUN Foundation,

    As we begin this season of giving, my family and I are writing to thank you for your support of The SUN Foundation. Your generosity has meant the difference between life and death for my son, Justin, who was born with a rare metabolic condition that left him intellectually and developmentally disabled and in desperate need of a liver transplant at age 2.  Although we were connected with Pathways early on, it wasn’t until 2 years ago when Justin was 15, that I believe their support literally saved his life.

 You see, in the fall of 2014, Justin started high school. Unbeknownst to us, Justin had severe social anxiety from having been bullied for the previous two years in middle school. Now, he found himself in a new environment without knowing how to make friends or reconcile being cognitively 4-5 years behind others his age. As a consequence, Justin developed “selective mutism,” meaning he stopped talking to everyone because of severe social anxiety. He also started having psychogenic seizures and contemplating suicide. After a multi-week hospitalization in the psychiatric unit Justin was discharged, but still dealing with depression and social anxiety. An online search led me to a program that taught group social skills to kids like Justin on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, the program’s $520 monthly tuition was far more than our family of 5—with our monthly labs, ultrasounds, physician visits, and a lengthy list of medications—could afford.

So, we turned to Developmental Pathways who covered most of the tuition bill. After 3 months of the program, Justin was talking again. After another 7 months, he had the confidence to interview for a position at Walmart. Now, two years since starting the program, Justin’s social anxiety has become a thing of the past. In fact, he recently took his girlfriend to the homecoming dance. He still struggles to advocate for himself all the time, but without out the funding for the social skills training, I believe my son would have continued to be selectively mute and suicidal. You see, gifts like yours gave us back our son and now he is conquering social situations I previously couldn’t envision.

    It’s not only Justin’s life that has changed—it is our whole family’s as well. Earlier this year, our family received three Saturdays of respite while Justin participated in all-day outings through Developmental Pathways. My wife and I used this opportunity to make our other two sons the center of attention which has greatly strengthened our family. I struggle to think how this would have been possible without the philanthropic gifts that have made Justin’s respite excursions free of cost to us.

     In the next year, Justin will become a legal adult and we can honestly say we’re excited to see him grow into a hardworking, talented individual. We credit this feeling to The SUN Foundation and Developmental Pathways because we know they are ready to respond to the challenges we may face in the future as we’ve seen them do over the past 17 years. However, despite all of the support The SUN Foundation has given us and families like ours, they need your help to continue helping others.  Justin, his brothers, and my wife Michelle and I hope you will consider a gift, whether that’s $100, $1,000, or whatever you can afford, your generosity will enable the SUN Foundation and Developmental Pathways to continue to reach children, adults, and families who need them. You can make your gift here.

     On behalf of my family, I wish you and your families a safe, healthy, and peaceful holiday season. As we celebrate our blessings this holiday season, let us remember that the greatest gift to ourselves is to give to others.

Warmest regards,

The Marquez Family

Share your story with us at support-communications@nmscolo.org.

Be sure to visit our Community Impact page, or read more Family Stories to hear more about the other incredible families we have the privilege to support.