From the day Rhett was born, Cindy and Rick Reese expected their son's life to be a short one.
"In the past, we were preparing for Rhett to leave this world," Cindy Reese said of her son, who is 10. "We were told in the beginning he probably wouldn't live very long. Twice in the hospital, the clergy came in."
Rhett was born 15 weeks early and weighed only a pound and a half. Cindy Reese said her son's hand was the size of a man's thumbnail. Even though he came home after five months in the hospital, they have always been preparing for the day they would lose him, she said.
Now, with a new outlook, the couple is hoping for some financial assistance in preparing for Rhett's life.
A pupil at Euchee Creek Elementary School, Rhett is wheelchair-bound because of cerebral palsy and two dislocated hips, is nearly blind, nonverbal and is developmentally impaired.
The Reeses are renovating their Grovetown home to make his life more comfortable.
"Before, we were preparing for what time we had and just making the best of what time we had," Cindy Reese said of her 60-pound son. "Now, we have realized he has made it 10 years and he may live a lot longer life than we had initially expected. So now, we've got to start preparing for him for however long. So we needed to make things more accessible."
The couple has used a $6,200 allotment from Serenity Behavioral Health Systems to take out a few walls in their double-wide mobile home, creating an open suite for Rhett for easy moving and bathroom access.
Before the walls were removed, Rhett's wheelchair could not fit into the area.
The Reeses are hoping to collect enough funds to add a border foundation to stabilize their home so they can widen the front door and the door to the suite to accommodate Rhett's wheelchair.
The roof and walls have begun to buckle, leaving doorways less than square.
Walton Options for Independent Living will add the wider doorways when the home is stabilized with the foundation, Reese said.
The past year has been tough financially for the Reeses. Rick Reese was out of his construction job for six months after knee surgery for an on-the-job injury, Cindy Reese said.
"With me not working to take care of Rhett and all the doctors appointments, money is tight," she said. "We haven't been able to do to the trailer things that need to be done."
Rhett is an affectionate boy whose grin appears in photos all around the home. He enjoys music, being read to and going out to eat, shopping and other places with his parents.
"We want his life to be as enjoyable at home as it is out to give him a little bit of normalcy," Cindy Reese said.
She said the hardest thing for her and her husband had to do was ask for help. But the request for donations of money and building materials for the project "comes from a parent wanting to do the best for their child."
Contributions should be made out to Cindy Reese and mailed to Dickey Boardman, c/o Meybohm Realty, 3519 Wheeler Road, Augusta, GA 30909.
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