Child's Special Gift Opens Her World

Child's Special Gift Opens Her World

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News Specialist Coco Warner reportingA gift is something you can either give or receive. And in the case of a North Ogden family and an 8-year-old girl named Jennifer, it's been a bit of both.

Jennifer Thompson's gift is two-fold -- through the kindness of strangers, she received a life-changing gift, while her own life is a gift to her family and anyone who meets her.

"I remember I was walking out of the specialist's office and I heard him say, 'that little Thompson baby looks like she'll pull through,' and I was just like, 'yes, yes.' It was the best day of my life," says Jennifer’s mother Julie.

Jennifer Thompson has been a survivor since before birth. When her mother Julie was six months pregnant, Jennifer became very ill, so ill that her parents weren't sure if she'd make it.

So when Jennifer was first diagnosed with cerebral palsy, they were just happy she was alive.

"We were worried she had some serious problem and was going to die or something, and he told us she had this other problem that wasn't life threatening, and we were just overjoyed going out of there. We were just happy. I think he thought we were nuts that we had a baby that had cerebral palsy and we were happy," says Jennifer's father David Thompson.

Eight years later, Jennifer is confined to a wheelchair and unable to communicate well.

"Everything's been hard for her. She's just now learning to feed herself," says Julie Thompson.

Jennifer has been in therapy since she was a toddler, and that's when she first met occupational therapist Mona Oversteg, who is affiliated with the Weber School District Foundation.

The foundation helps children with special needs.

"And when we have kids with special needs, that need really expensive pieces of equipment that insurance doesn't cover, then we've always had the foundation to put applications into and they really help us out a lot with the money end of things," Oversteg says.

This year the foundation gave Jennifer a complicated communications device known as a word board, and it has opened up her world.

"Once she learns what the symbols are and how to put the symbols together, then she can say real novel sentences that none of us knew that she'd ever want to say, so her personality will really be able to come out with this and we'll get to know the real Jennifer," Oversteg says.

"She told Shannon our oldest daughter she was weird the other day on the word board, and we're finding out she has such a dry sense of humor," Julie Thompson says.

The board cost $8,000 -- a gift the Thompson family would not have been able to afford.

"There are some special people out there that go out of their way to help people in need, and it's just, words can't really express (it)," Julie Thompson says.

This gift allows Jennifer to better give the gift of herself.

"We've heard burden -- isn't she a burden? Oh my goodness, it's the opposite. She's a blessing," Julie Thompson says.

"Thanks for coming to see me. I'm glad that we could meet," Jennifer says.

Jennifer received her word board last Fall, just in time to begin the 2nd grade at Majestic Elementary School .

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