MARTINS FERRY - Betty Zane Days kicked off Tuesday at the city park in Martins Ferry.
The annual festival, put on by the Martins Ferry Fire Department, is five days of food, fun, rides, music and a sense of community.
But while partaking in some harmless frivolity down at the park, make plans to stop by a booth near the front of the park.
T-L Photo/MIKE HUGHES
Brenda Wilson holds her daughter Addy Grace in front of their booth at the Betty Zane Days Festival in Martins Ferry. The Wilsons, Brenda and Brett (not pictured), are selling 50-50 raffle tickets along with t-shirts, bracelets and other items with all the proceeds going to their daughter's health care costs.
There you'll find the Wilsons, Brenda and Brett, and their 4-year-old daughter, Addy Grace.
Chances are, Addy Grace will be beaming a big smile, one that's finally started to come back after nearly two years of therapy, a targeted diet and other assistance.
Addy Grace suffers from Autism and Mitochondrial Dysfunction (MtD).
Born in January 2009, Brenda first began to notice something was amiss with her youngest daughter shortly after her first birthday.
A well-visit shortly after her birthday party resulted in Addy Grace receiving a few vaccinations, as is the norm around the 12-month age range.
But a few days after, she started experiencing seizures.
At first the seizures were drop attack seizures and were infrequent. After taking medicine to help with the seizures, they grew in frequency and in type. Addy began experiencing night terrors. She developed Hypotonia, losing muscle tone. She had coordination issues.
Ever since, Addy Grace and her family have struggled daily to bring her back.
She's a student of the Augusta Levy Learning Center, the Ohio Valley's first intensive autism treatment program.
She also has a special diet and receives a daily regiment of supplements. They are necessary. While Addy Grace's symptoms fall on the Autism Spectrum, her issues are more than just on a neurological level.
The supplements alone cost $400 a month. They must be taken daily, and paying for them has become quite a challenge. Naturally, they are not covered under insurance.
"It isn't just the autism," Brenda Wilson said. "She has seizures and so many other issues. She has thyroid and liver dysfunction."
That's why the Wilsons are hoping you'll get on board and join "Team Addy Grace."
Black t-shirts with the "Team Addy Grace" logo feature the phrase "solving the puzzle one piece at a time." They are for sale, as are supportive blue wrist bands and other items.
There are other various items, including gift baskets, and they are also holding a 50-50 raffle.
Brenda Wilson knows how far her daughter has come since her treatment began, and she doesn't want her to suffer any setbacks. Like any mother, she wants the best for her little girl.
Addy Grace has gained nearly 20 pounds since her revamped diet began. She's regained some muscle tone and coordination.
The nearly six hours of daily therapy from Augusta Levy staff has paid countless dividends in her progression.
Brett Wilson, who has a job with the state of Ohio, noted that some of the family's medical expenses will soon be covered under insurance.
Coverage began on July 1 for state workers and their families, as physical, speech and occupational therapy, clinical therapeutic intervention and mental and behavioral health outpatient services related to autism treatment will be covered.
He noted it will help some in Addy's care, but it will be far from a coverall. The nutritional supplements certainly won't be.
Stop down to see the Wilsons during you trip to the Betty Zane Days festival. Get to meet the Wilsons and Addy Grace and see for yourself how far she's come. There's a video playing on a small screen at their booth where you can view her story and learn more about the smiling little 4-year-old.
You can also read more about her on Facebook by visiting the "For the love of Addy Grace" page.
Hughes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org