The Fight of Alex Fitzgerald

I lived in Turkey for 3 years while I was growing up.

Not on a military base, mind you, but in an apartment building where most of our neighbors were Turks.

Living on the economy in Turkey is much different than living anywhere in the US.

Not that I’ve lived everywhere in the US, but you get my drift.

Each morning as we stood to wait for the school bus to take us to school (which was on a military base) I would watch as a woman and her young child would come up to the apartment garbage cans and forage for food for both herself and her daughter.

In Turkey there wasn’t a food stamp, Medicaid or any other kind of public assistance programs for the poor to turn to.

I would watch as some would go out of their way to make sure they didn’t have to cross this woman’s path.

I would watch as some would pick up rocks to throw not only at the mother, but at her young daughter too.

And I would wonder why people hated a mother who was trying to feed her child.

Poverty isn’t anything new in countries like Turkey. You couldn’t walk more than a block or two before coming across a beggar hoping for a Lira. While these poor souls were more likely to get spit on before they found charity, I would watch as more often than not, my parents would stop and give from their pocketbooks.

Then I would watch as our well to do Turkish friends would tell my parents not to give to these people. That by giving them anything my parents were only making the problem worse.

Although how life for a man with no legs sitting on a wheeled board begging for food could really get much worse was something I spent a lot of time worrying about.

While our experiences with fundraising for Parker has been overwhelmingly positive, we too, have taken a few hits in this regard by people who are sure that they would never be found in a situation like ours or simply refuse to believe that in the US people loose everything they own trying to keep a child alive.

(And while many are celebrating the passing of Health Care Reform, Utah is one of the states fighting against it. I’ve got an email into my local legislative Rep trying to find out how this will all play out in our great state.)

But I was really surprised when I read about Lauren Fitzgerald and her severely disabled son, Alex.

alex5x7

T-Mobile approached the Fitzgerald family about putting up a stealth cell phone tower on part of their 10 acres of land.   A place where the pole would not be seen by any neighbors.

Revenue from this tower would go towards Alex’s current needs as well as a special needs trust to care for Alex after his parents are gone.

The moment word of this got out the Fitzgerald’s neighbors and the community as a whole, immediately began to rally against it.

Parents of his peers have gone so far as to circulate a petition in his middle school last week, in an attempt to stop the project. It was unclear if the school had knowledge of or had given permission for such a petition to be distributed during a school-sponsored event.

It became clear that aesthetic concerns over what is supposed to be a stealth pole that will be completely hidden by trees, was more important than the quality of life of a neighborhood child.

“It’s the folks around here who don’t know us who are trying to hurt us,” stated Fitzgerald. “This pole will barely be visible, or at most, look like a skinny tree trunk. I guess in their minds, the hardship of having to look at a benign pole trumps the hardship that my son faces on a daily basis. We are only trying to provide our son with the life and future that he deserves; the kind of life that our neighbors with healthy children take for granted. Once upon a time, communities came together to help children like my son. It appears those days are gone.”

What do you think?

Would your community come together to help a child such as Alex?

Have you ever had to fundraise to provide for your child’s overwhelming medical needs?

ps:  want to read more about this? click here

About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.

Comments

  1. What a sad day it is when people see a need and do everything not to help! It breaks my heart to see the innocent children suffer because someone’s lack of understanding or someone is quick to judge. When Jayden was in the PICU for 2 months and my husband took a leave of absence from work, it was his employment that rallied around us and did fundraisers for us. This is what kept my husband by my side in a city 3 hours away from home. We were able to be together during one of the most difficult times in our lives because of the generosity of his co-workers. I am forever grateful for what they did for us.

    • Regina,

      I remember my Dad (and others!) giving all of his vacation days to a co-worker who had used up all of his medical leave while still needing time to recover from a TBI.

      By donating vacation days this co-worker was able to keep his job……..and his insurance.

      I LOVE stories like yours. They make my heart sing. Reed’s school and co-workers have been wonderful as well.

  2. Wow, I would be so disapointed in my neighbors and supposide friends! We only had one fundraiser for Jax, and it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but at the time keeping Jax alive was proving quite difficult.
    But like I said, I’m not a great fundraiser!

  3. Makes my stomach turn for that poor little boy and his family…..I can truly relate…..One roadblock leading into yet another. It’s a constant battle…..In a bulldozer….Set in reverse….UPHILL….Slathered in slippery oil……Littered with boulders….And trees…..And snakes….And holes…..FLAMING LOOP holes……And, And, And…..I’m at the bottom again….

  4. Stephanie says:

    I believe there is a special place is He** for people who are like that. We have folks in our own family who not only think that way, but have accused us of keeping our child alive in order to “get things”. I am not sure what they are referring to other than seizure meds, feeding bags, formula, & suction canisters…but Oh well. They now refer to Christopher as “The Meal Ticket”. Nice huh? That is why we have not had a fund raiser. While we are right now putting our house up for sale in the hopes that it does before it is foreclosed on, I think I would go postal if I had to deal with any more attitude like this.

    For anybody who isn’t involved in the care of a special needs child, there is this misconception that we are paid, or people drop everything to give us stuff. Honestly, I think some of that comes from the few foster parents who get in to that for the money (not that there is much to be had there either). I don’t think it ever occurred to anybody in our family before Christopher, that insurance policies even HAD a max on them. Christopher hit his @ 18 months.

    Ok, I’ll quit now. :)

    Steph

    • First of all, HUGS. I so know where you are coming from. Thank you for sharing your story with us here.

      Parker’s max is coming up quickly. This last hospital round with RSV didn’t help any. It would have been SO much cheaper to have had Synagis available for The Hero.

      I will say that the fund raisers our community has held has brought a lot of really good people into our lives. The problem is too that fundraisers alone simply can’t cover it all.

      I think one of the main reasons we are still in our home is because we built this home ourselves (I was the general contractor, and Reed did a TON of the work himself) after living rent-free in a literal shack and flipping two previous homes.

      I remember the bank trying to talk me into selling THIS home and building another. NO WAY.

      Our home is by no means anything fancy. But by doing all the stuff we did, our monthly payment is lower than average.

      However, we will be in medical debt up to our ears for things our insurance didn’t cover before Parker got a spot with Medicaid.

      And when Parker’s insurance max’s out, the $2,000 dollar a month drug he is on isn’t covered by Medicaid.

      Yet another thing that literally keeps me up with a sick stomach many a night.

  5. I am shocked at how insensitive people can be. I sometimes think that as the most ‘advanced’ species on the planet, we are actually sometimes the most cruel…

  6. It’s funny how some people would fight something like this before even knowing all the facts. It’s selfishness in it’s purest forms. “I don’t want it” and that’s all that matters. Doesn’t matter that it would help out a family with a child with special needs. Our society has turned so selfish that it makes me sick. “It’s not my problem” right? I hope this family wins. And I would like to say that I hope the people fighting against this take a step back and realize what they’re doing, but they won’t. Such a shame.

  7. I can’t take stuff like this. It hurts me. Almost personally. Because I know how that momma wants to save her baby.

    T-Mobile should put up a flashing pole with a big sign on it if they’re going to be that ugly. Make it look like Vegas!

  8. Hi Tammy–it occurs to me that maybe these neighbors are worried about the potential health risks of living near a cell tower? I just did a quick Google search and although it appears that the government denies health risks of living near these towers, there are independent researchers who are concerned. Just a thought–I hate to believe that a community would turn their backs on someone purely for aesthetics.

    • Jenn, that’s a really good point. And that thought had occurred to me. But then I thought about the acreage around this family and wondered how close you have to be to a pole for it to be an issue health wise.

      I could see the community’s point a little bit easier if they were trying to put the up on a small lot surrounded by other small lots.

      Thanks for pointing this out though!

      • I agree with you Tammy, it does seem like they have a ton of space. I wonder how much actual research these “neighbors” did or if they are just acting out of fear (if in fact the health risks are their concern)? I really feel for the family, I hope something can be worked out.

  9. Wow, that’s just sick that people would rally together to have this stopped, instead of helping the family.

  10. What is wrong with people. Seriously, what is wrong with them. I just don’t get it.

  11. christine says:

    I too am appalled by the thought of this. My family and I like many are struggling big time to keep my daughter alive. We barely make it in a good month, much less in a month where I take time off for doctors appointments or hospital stays. I would jump at an offer like that. We have not done any fundraising at all because our church and community has so poorly recieved her anyway. Although I have been tempted to try and may in the future.

    I do want to read more about this story but when I click the link it is not working.

  12. I have always been tortured by the thought of people suffering — from poverty or sickness. Even as a young child, I got very upset by the unfairness of life.

    I would have been devastated by that sight in Turkey. And I will never understand how people can be so cruel.

    That story you shared about Alex is bizarre… I can’t even understand. If it is on their own property and it won’t cause any health impacts, then what it is the concern? I hope that it goes through and Alex earns the revenue.

  13. It is so sad that most people in the world only care about themselves! I can’t believe that these people care so much about aesthetics and not the welfare of this boy! So sad!

  14. Frugal Carol says:

    It breaks my heart when people act like this. Unless you have been through it your self or have someone close to you go through it, you just do not realize how fast it could happen to your own family. I am very thankful to live in a state that does not allow this to happen to children born with birth defects.

  15. Hi! This is Lauren, Alex’s mom. I just happened to find this site. Thanks for all of the lovely comments.

    As for the tower, we find out in a month or two if it goes through. It will only be 120 feet high and built as a farm silo…pretty benign. As for health risks, there are none. RF waves from base station towers have no health risks at all…otherwise, I wouldn’t want one on my property.

    But that’s beside the point. Our situation is such:

    My little boy is severely disabled. He is blind, deaf and has little use of his arms and hands. He cannot walk. He was not born this way, but developed his problems around the age of 2. He has been deteriorating ever since and no one knows why.

    We are not a poor family. My husband earns a nice six figure salary and we own investment properties around the area which bring us a healthy income. But none of this matters because in the state of Maryland, there is NO money for people with disabilities. When my son turns 18, the most he can hope for from the DDA is $10,000 a year to cover all of his expenses. That isn’t even enough to pay someone to live in and help us take care of him. He is already almost 14 years old and requires full time assistance. He now is having trouble feeding himself.

    I guess my point is, you don’t have to be poor to need help with a handicapped child, especially when you live in the state that offers little assistance to people in need. I hear they are cutting Maryland’s DDA budget again this year, so my son’s $10,000 a year will be even less by the time he’s an adult.

    It’s very sad. I think all of the elitists trying to block our project should be spending their time holding their perfectly normal children and being grateful they are healthy and well. But I guess it’s more exiting for them to be angry at a family they don’t even know and really don’t care about.

    Thanks for the well wishes!!

    Lauren

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge