“I wouldn’t trade this place for anything,” Luke said. His mom, Christina, nodded in agreement. “I remember the smile on his face,” she said, “after a visit here. It took us a year to decide, but we both knew it was the right place because it gives him a sense of independence.”

Independence is hard to come by, thanks to the many effects of a dozen brain surgeries. Luke continues to grow more independent, the journey bringing challenges to both Luke and his mom. She explained the challenges she has faced to make sure Luke has as many experiences as possible, like walking across the stage at high school graduation. Luke shared about facing the challenges of limited mobility and vision.

Among Luke’s favorite programs at New Danville are cooking and the “What’s Happening” class. When asked whether his reputation for liking to share his opinions on a variety of topics was true, he nodded, smiled, and replied, “Yes.”  His favorite topics? Politics, current events…life.

“I was his caregiver for eight years,” his mom said, “and I wanted to be sure that he would be safe and appreciated wherever he landed. The staff at New Danville are loving and understanding. It was scary when I heard that there were field trips to town for movies or pizza. Luke’s sister joined in and now she loves being a part of the fun. I was worried for his safety and about the responses of people. People can be cruel in what they say or how they act. Being around people with challenges who are growing more independent has been good for Luke.”

“We respect each other’s disabilities,” Luke said. Respect is at the heart of the journey for independence, self-esteem, and relationships.

Luke’s mom shared a moment that she and Luke are particularly proud of. A while back, there was a fellow Wrangler who was having a hard time drinking a soda because of his tremors. Luke, being personally familiar with the condition and its frustrations, put a straw in the can and held it so his friend could drink easily. Luke smiled at the sharing of the story. His mom re-emphasized that a lot of Wranglers have been through a lot, but they, along with the staff, are there for each other.

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