GABR: Hope Through Therapy

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The annual Great American Bike Race, which will be held on Saturday, April 11, is a fundraiser for families of children with cerebral palsy and related conditions.

But the money helps others as well, including a little boy who nearly drowned last summer.

Four-year-old Emmett Weigel still has those bright eyes and that mischievous smile that often got him into trouble.

"He was one of those kids you never left your eyes off of because you weren't sure where he was going to end up. And he had to jump off of everything that was able to be jumped off of or climbed up anything that could be climbed. He was typical boy," said Danielle Weigel, Emmett's mom.

Unfortunately, the family lost track of him at a wedding rehearsal dinner in Minnesota back in July. They found him in the lake, not knowing how long he had been underwater. He spent one month in the ICU and two months in a rehab hospital.

"We knew it would be a big change after coming home from the hospital. But we didn't realize how much of a daily change it would actually be, as far as the different routines and stuff that we need to do on a daily basis to get him fed and give him enough water, just to take care of his daily activities and still do all the therapy and different things that we've been doing with him," explained Charles Weigel, Emmett's dad.

They drive from Napoleon to Bismarck twice a week for therapy. And while it may not be fast enough for his parents, his therapist has noticed the steady improvements he's made.

"From the initial evaluation, when Emmett was having a tough time even moving his head from this position, where he was always rotated, to coming to the middle. And now he's free to move his head. So we have to step back and look at the big picture. And he's made some really nice progressive changes," said physical therapist Heather Lundeen.

With the help of GABR funds, the Weigels have the equipment they need to continue Emmett's therapy at home. And they have high hopes for the future.

"As far as mental status, he appears to be essentially normal as far as what he was before. He understands everything, he smiles, he laughs. He does cry when he gets mad but he's not able to talk yet. But, we're starting to get more active motion of his arms and legs. And he's starting to make more vocalizations, where we think he'll be talking soon, hopefully," said Charles.

Danielle said: "We want him to walk again and jump again, to run, to stand up, hold his head up, talk. He laughs and he shows a lot of emotion but clearly, we want to hear his voice again."

And they'll drive the extra miles and take the time off work to get Emmett where he needs to be.