Tag Archives: walk with me

Connecting Within the Veteran Community, Part 1: Client Focus

Easter Seals Greater Houston has done a wide variety of things for me. I am grateful for everything you all have done.  Before meeting with ESGH, I had done very little to connect to the Veterans community and the Veterans services that I am able to access because of my time in the Army.Veterans May

It has been a combination of effort from my mental health therapist, Amy Harkins, Jennifer Wright from the Service Dog Program and a few others who have helped me get tickets to concerts and other events.  I had an amazing time at the VetsAid concert.  I loved going to the Zoo for Walk With Me and I look forward to going again this year.  I even got connected to Give Vets a Smile at UT Dental and got some much-needed work done.  I plan to follow up with THRIVE (Easter Seals Financial Education Program) to keep working on my financial situation with Jenny Martinez.  I am thankful to be connected to the Veteran Food Pantry.  I tend to isolate so these activities mean the world to me.

I have the sense that there are puppet masters in the background at ESGH that are helping me out in ways that I don’t even really know about.  I have appreciated everything Jennifer Wright has done to keep the process going to get a service dog.  I do worry about some of the details of getting a service dog, but overall, I am very hopeful that having a service dog will help me explore and enjoy life to the fullest.  Having a dog will allow me to do things that I don’t do now.  A dog will open a door that I keep closed.  And a Service Dog will be a much-needed friend.  Jennifer has not given up on helping me get a service dog and I am so grateful that she has been persistent, on track, and motivated.  If she had given up, I would have given up a long time ago.

I know that talking (via Telehealth) to my therapist Amy has really helped me do things that I would not have done otherwise.  Talking has helped me to think about what I want to do.  I want to explore and see things in Houston.  Actually, one of the most helpful things we have done is meet in person.Veterans May 2  It was a very big step for me to start using Metro Lift so that I can meet in person.  Getting familiar with Metro Lift has opened up many opportunities for me.  Still, it is helpful that I can meet with my therapist by video when something gets off track.  Having you all in my corner has been my saving grace. 



James Kittrell

Army Veteran


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An Update from our CEO

We are Here (Virtually) For You

Therapist and her baby with headphones on

Learning Tele-Health!

Easter Seals of Greater Houston is here for you during this difficult time and because you are among our most valuable supporters, we want to assure you that we are here to help. With the Coronavirus (CoVid19) situation changing every day, our concerns are amplified with fears of how our community will be impacted. In all of our decades of serving military families, people with disabilities and vulnerable members of our community-we have become experts in what it takes to beat the odds. Over a month ago, we began adapting our services to keep our staff and clients safe while continuing to provide as many services as possible through tele-health and virtual meet-ups. Click here to see how we continue to support our clients and their families. We have compiled as many resources as possible on Covid19 and are keeping it as up to date as possible. Use BridgingApps.org, our award winning tech technology program, for an amazing amount of on-line resources and ways to stay connected and follow them on Facebook to see new ideas, and resources daily.

Like all families, businesses and charities, Easter Seals Greater Houston has already been hit really hard by the pandemic, by the government mandated benefits and even with huge aid being put in place by Congress, our agency is not eligible for many of the government supports. We expect even more health and financial damage before this is over. With that said, we are steadfast in our commitment to our clients, who need us now more than ever and we are committed to doing whatever we can to protect our employees, serve our clients and come out of this stronger than ever.   Our mission statement is, “Help. Hope. Answers.” The amazing, incomparable and unconquerable Easter Seals family will fulfill that mission of providing help, hope and answers to some of our most vulnerable neighbors during this difficult time and we are grateful to you for standing by us so that we have the resources to serve them.

Speaking of virtually.. We have also moved our Walk With Me Houston event scheduled for April 25th to #WWMVirtually as well. Please consider supporting us through the event. It will be a great way for you, your family, friends, co-workers and other social groups to interact, support the community, “do good” – great home school lesson, stay active safely and more! Follow our Facebook page for our Walk With Me Virtual Sign Up Happy Hour. Last but not least, we so appreciate our current sponsors and their continued effort and support!

If you don’t have the time to commit to walking virtually (and believe me we all understand) then please consider making a gift today to support Easter Seals Greater Houston and our programs, services, clients and their families. We depend on your stewardship and support.

Be well,

Elise Hough, CEO, Easter Seals of Greater Houston

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Walk With Me…Virtually: Walk, Stroll or Roll the Block!

Out of an abundance of caution and care for our clients, teams, sponsors, friends and family walkers and rollers, we’ve made the decision to reroute Walk With Me 2020 to a virtual event. 

This year, we invite you to: Walk With Me…Virtually: Walk, Stroll or Roll the Block!

How it works: We encourage you to register (if you haven’t already) and walk, stroll or roll around your own block daily, weekly and/or on the event day between now and April 25th. Of course, your safety comes first, but we also know that taking in a little bit of sunshine can help all of us during this difficult time!

As you walk, stroll or roll your block, be sure to take photos or videos…or even live stream your experience and use the hashtag #WWMVirtually and tag @EasterSealsGreaterHouston then encourage your friends and family to do the same to help support your (or their own) fundraising efforts.

Last year, 4,000 Houstonians were in attendance. With our virtual walk, we KNOW you can help us beat that!

Every “virtual” step you take helps connect veterans, children and adults with all types of disabilities to the services they desperately need.

How to register to walk, stroll or roll around your block!
*If you have already registered as a walker, you are automatically considered a virtual walker (or stroller or roller!). As such, you do not need to re-register.
*All we need is your help with spreading the word about Walk With Me…Virtually!
*If you’re new to our Walk With Me community, register as a virtual walker here!

How to encourage your friends to continue to help you in your virtual fundraising efforts:

  • As you walk, stroll or roll your block, be sure to take photos or videos…or even live stream your experience and use the hashtag #WWMVirtually and tag @EasterSealsGreaterHouston to encourage your friends and family to do the same to help support your fundraising efforts. You can even create a Facebook fundraiser to make it that much easier!
  • Ask friends and family to join your virtual team, create their own teams and challenge their peer networks (Scout troops, Mother’s Day Out, faith communities, volunteer groups and more) to do the same!
  • Click here for an updated email you can send to your friends and family to encourage continued donations to your virtual walker page!

Donate NOW to help us continue our life-changing work!

COVID-19 has hit Easter Seals and its clients, employees and fundraising efforts hard so we need your support in helping us reach our $1 million goal NOW MORE THAN EVER BEFORE. Your commitment will help ensure that Easter Seals can continue its mission of providing services for thousands of Houstonians living with all types of disabilities each year.

Donate to a walker to support Easter Seals Greater Houston today!

We look forward to virtually walking, strolling or rolling the block with you!

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Miraculous Megan: Longtime Client and Friend

Megan Fry is an amazing 17 year old girl. She has been part of the Easter Seals Greater Houston family for over 10 years. She has the mind and the personality of a typical developing teenage girl. She loves art and has her own website, Just My Eye, that meg-w-dvox-300x225showcases her creations. One of Megan’s many unique qualities is that she was born with cerebral palsy, with an end result of being nonverbal and using a wheelchair to maneuver around. You need to be careful because she drives her chair around very fast! She communicates and shows off her big personality by using a Tobii. The Tobii is a device that allows Megan to use her eyes to pick out her words which are then shared through the speaker.

Over the years, Megan has attended our summer camps, participated in Family Day Out, received In-Home Respite, and participated in our BridgingApps program. Her family has participated in our Lil’ Rustler Rodeo night with the Houston Livestocgroupk Show and Rodeo, used a Respitality weekend, participated in our Walk With Me at the Houston Zoo event and our Hats Off to Mother’s Luncheon. We were fortunate to have Megan as our summer intern this past year. She created and distributed our Easter Seals Montgomery County newsletter. Megan is currently participating in our Family Day Out program as a Junior Director. She is amazing with our clients and our families.


Megan is a true success story and ambassador for Easter Seals Greater Houston. Megan and her mom even went on speaking engagements last year to represent Easter Seals during the United Way campaign. She has received services and continues to give back to our community. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Megan because we know there is nothing she can’t accomplish!

Kristie Carlisle, Respite Program, Easter Seals Greater Houston

Check out Megan’s dad’s post about how assistive technology helped him connect with his daughter here!

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Robert’s Road Warriors

Join Easter Seals Greater Houston and Chairmen Katherine and Bob Dowdell on Saturday, April 9th for the 5th Annual Family Fun Walk, Walk With Me, at the Houston Zoo.  The Dowdell’s, alongside their team, Robert’s Road Warriors, are walking to support their 19 year old son Robert who struggles with cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

“Robert was first diagnosed with cataracts and then cerebral palsy at the age of 14 months.  Fortunately, he was able to participate in Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) – physical, occupational and speech therapyECI offers a jump start for children with delayed developmental issues like Robert. While many of those years were mixed with hardships and challenges, Easter Seals was a constant support throughout. Easter Seals was with our family every step of the way to make Robert’s “disability” seem more like a “different ABILITY”.

Robert attended his first Easter Seals Camp when he was seven years old.  smiles robert dowdellHe attended Camp Buckaroo, a summer day camp for kids with special needs, and Camp Smiles, a week long spend-the-night camp in Burton, Texas.  Robert had never spent the night away from home, but I packed up his walker, wheelchair and orthotics for his adventure.  At camp, Robert was encouraged to try new things he never dreamed he could do, as he needed assistance with many everyday tasks. He did all the normal camp things; horseback riding, zip line, fishing, shot archery, sang karaoke, and danced and – for the first time in his life, he like a “normal” kid. He was loved for who he was, just as he was.  At the end of each camp session, Robert would cry when he saw we were there to pick him up…he didn’t want to leave!

????????????????????????????????????At age 15, Robert attended Camp Most. Camp Most is focused less on activities and more on building socialization skills in teens.  Robert learned important things like how to start a conversation, how to tell people about his disability, and how to determine his strengths to build a resume.  Robert has learned how to set goals.  His goals for 2016 include: to do his BEST in everything that he CAN do, to be a better brother to his sister, Katie and to be independent.  Easter Seals Camps have proven to be some of the most transformative events in Robert’s life to date.

Community support of Walk With Me is a blessing to many families in the greater Houston area – one that the Dowdell Family can personally attest to. Easter Seals provides life-changing services to people of all ages with all types of disabilities.  Thanks to Easter Seals, Robert is strong, happy, perseverant and optimistic about his bright future, and we are confident that Easter Seals will continue to help him become more self-reliant and prepare him for his future. Please consider supporting Walk With Me to guarantee services for Robert and other Houstonians with disabilities to help them discover their potential and hope for limitless possibilities!”

-Katherine Taylor Dowdell
Walk With Me Chair, Proud mother of Katie (22) and Robert (19) and grateful beneficiary of Easter Seals Greater Houston programs

Katherine and Robert DowdellMore About Walk With Me: 
Walk With Me is a 5K or shorter Family Fun Walk that helps raise awareness and resources for programs of Easter Seals, which help children and adults living with all types of disabilities. For more information contact Madison Shofner at 713-838-9050×304 or mshofner@eastersealshouston.org or visit our event website, click here!

More About the Dowdell Family:
Robert lives in Briargrove Park with his family.  His father, Bob, is an executive with Prosperity Bank and his mother, Katherine, is a retired banker and fundraiser.  Katherine serves on the Board of Directors for Easter Seals and Bob was instrumental in gaining the support of Prosperity Bank, the Title Sponsor for this year’s Walk With Me event.  Robert’s big sister, Katie, is a senior at Louisiana State University.  Robert is a senior at Westside High School.  He is active in Best Buddies Texas, Capernaum-a Young Life group for special needs kids, and Easter Seals Camp Most.

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Walk With Team Bouchard

natl 3Macy Bouchard is a determined 11- year old with special needs. As soon as you meet Macy, you know she will not allow her disabilities to slow her down. Macy has an infectious personality and an optimistic, can-do spirit that is an inspiration to others.

Macy lives in Houston with her family. Her dad, Butch, is an executive at Team, Inc., her mom, Krista, is a retired software consultant, and her big brother, Travis, is a 7th grader at Cornerstone Academy. Macy attended Wildcat Way and Wilchester Elementary and now attends Crossroads, a school that focuses on children with learning and other differences.  Macy is active in Girl Scouts, GAP, Memorial Drive United Methodist Church Choir and Bells, Special Olympics Gymnastics and enjoys adaptive sports with Soaring Kidz and snow skiing with Challenge Aspen.natl 4

At birth Macy’s parents knew she was special. Macy was born without sight in one eye and with physical and cognitive impairments. There is no diagnosis for Macy’s condition. “We treat the lack of diagnosis as a blessing, because with no diagnosis there are no pre-conceived limits as to what Macy can accomplish”, said Krista. Macy has always had to work very hard to learn to do everyday things we take for granted such as eating, dressing, communicating and walking.  Even as an infant, Macy had difficulty eating and needed supplements to gain weight and get adequate nutrition.  Although she had a rough start to life, from an early age it was clear that Macy was born with something doctors cannot measure – optimism and grit – which have her well-prepared to take on these daily challenges.

natl 2Although her neurologist did not expect Macy would ever walk without a walker, as a first grader at Wilchester, Macy was determined and after many hours of therapy, she set her walker aside and hasn’t used it since. Macy has spent literally 1,000’s of hours in therapy and tutoring learning to walk, talk, eat, dress, read and write. As she was struggling to learn to walk, Macy would often fall and her family would ask, “Macy, what do you do when you fall”? And she would respond, “Get Back Up”!

Although Macy is naturally optimistic, Macy still has moments when she struggles. Macy’s biggest supporter has always been her big brother, who is always there to help his sister to “Get Back Up”. “Macy is determined. It may take her longer to do things, but if she wants to, and you give her the time, she will eventually get it”, says Travis, with a proud smile on his face.

“We truly believe Macy’s success has been attributable to where we live”, said Butch. Macy has had access to great medical and therapeutic services and the community has always been inclusive and supportive of Macy. “The social acceptance and opportunities she has been afforded by the community have played a crucial role in her progress”, said Krista.natl 1

The Bouchard’s believe in giving back to the community. Butch serves on the Board of Easter Seals Greater Houston and Butch and Krista are Chairs of the 2015 Easter Seals Walk With Me” event being held at the Houston Zoo on April 25, 2015. “Easter Seals provides life-changing services to people of all ages with all types of disabilities. Many children do not have the same access to services that Macy has had.  Fortunately Easter Seals Greater Houston is a great organization that is equipped to help people like Macy’, said Butch. “They just need our support. Families throughout the Greater Houston area depend on Easter Seals. And with your support, you can give these children and adults with disabilities an opportunity to discover their abilities and realize their full potential. Particularly important to my wife and I are the children’s services that provide children, like Macy, with early services that they may not be able to afford without Easter Seals.  These early and extensive services are expensive, but they have been crucial to Macy’s amazing success. These are just a few of the services that Easter Seals makes possible: Infant Therapy – Early Intervention Services for children and infants (ECI), Children’s Therapy Services, Social Motion Skills (for children with autism and ADHD), the Caroline School (for children with significant disabilities), and the development of new technology through toy therapy and the award-winning “Bridging Apps” program. ”

The Bouchard’s are hopeful that the community will come out in force to support Macy and Easter Seals Greater Houston. If you would like to join Macy, Travis, Butch & Krista in supporting Easter Seals, here is the information about the walk.

“Finally, as a member of the Easter Seals Board of Directors I can tell you from personal experience that this is a very well-run, efficient organization with a professional and dedicated staff. You can be certain that your donations will be maximized and put to good use”, says Butch.

Saturday, April 25, 2014 at 8 AM

(1) Form a Team for the Walk: Sign up a team of your own to walk and raise money. This is a great event for kids and grownups alike with an early morning walk at the Zoo and a family-friendly after party. Just go to the website: www.walkwithmehouston.com and follow the instructions to form your team.

(2) Join “Macy’s Mavericks”:   Join Krista, Butch, Travis and Macy on their walk Team, “Macy’s Mavericks”. Just go to the website: www.walkwithmehouston.com and select “join a team” and follow the instructions to join Macy’s Mavericks. They would love to have you come and walk with them!

(3) Make a Personal Donation:  Go to the website: www.walkwithmehouston.com and select “donate now” and type the name of the team you want to support. If you want to support “Macy’s Mavericks“, just type in “Macy’s Mavericks” and follow the instructions to make your personal contribution.

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Infant Development Program Reaches As Far As Liberty County

Did you know Easter Seals Greater Houston provides early intervention services (ECI) through our Infant Development Leanne Armel & Liberty County famsProgram in Montgomery and Liberty Counties – in addition to Harris and Fort Bend. We are very excited to be providing services there and have two incredible teams of therapists and social workers devoted to the counties.  This past April, Walk With Me 2014 brought families as far away as Liberty County! Several of the families enrolled in our Early Childhood Intervention program made the trek from Liberty County to Liberty County famswalk in support of this amazing event.  Joining the Liberty County staff in the Walk was 11 month old Kambreia Sonnier who was born with hydrocephalus. She receives Physical and Occupational therapy through our infant program and is currently crawling, pulling to stand and cruising around her home!  She enjoyed walking holding her Mom’s hand to see the lions and tigers and bears!  Joining Kambreia and her Mom at the zoo was her Grandmother and siblings.  Another one of our Liberty County families joining in on the Walk was the Sample-Williamson Family.  Eli, who is 2 years old now was born at 28 Liberty County staffweeks weighing only 2 pounds 14 ounces!  He is receiving Physical,Occupational and Speech therapy and we are happy to report he was able to enjoy walking around part of the zoo using his posterior walker. Joining Eli was his Mother, Grandparents and Uncle making it a true family outing! They enjoyed meeting the families and employees from the Houston area as well as face painting, breakfast yummy enough to satisfy a bear and other fun activities! For the Liberty County staff it was a special experience to walk with our clients and their families and together make a difference in the lives of those in need! We all look forward to Walk With Me 2015!!

Leanne Armel, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Infant Program, Liberty County

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