Local resident Dana Florence says she finds her strength in her children. Triplets Taylor, Brody and Cole were born prematurely at 25 weeks and five days. Between the three, they spent their first eight months in and out of the hospital, and at 10 months, they were all diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
“They’ve been through more than most people go through in an entire lifetime,” she says.
Dana and her husband, Jared, started Three to Be, a foundation to support research into treatment and therapies for childhood neurological disorders. Their inaugural event, the Stems of Hope Gala, is taking place Sept. 25 at the Kool Haus.
By the end of the year, Three to Be hopes to raise half a million dollars.
“We know with that money we can actually make a difference — a big difference,” says Dana.
She and Jared realized early on that the triplets, now 2, weren’t meeting their developmental milestones.
For Dana, the diagnosis was devastating.
“You have a picture of what your children are going to be, when they grow up, and everything changed at that very moment,” she says.
Dana and Jared decided then that they would do whatever they could for their children.
“I think that that has really helped us cope with the severity of the situation,” she says.
Dana didn’t know much about cerebral palsy before the triplets were diagnosed. When she started to do some digging, she says she was disappointed to find that not a lot was being done in the way of research. Dana was determined to change that.
As a full-time mom to three toddlers with special needs, Dana’s days are packed with appointments. But at the end of the day, once the triplets are in bed, she stays up into the wee hours of the night working on Three to Be.
So far, the response has been amazing, she says.
“The thing I care about the most is that it actually does something for my kids and other kids,” she says.
While the ultimate goal is to find a cure, Jared says he would also like to spread awareness and help other families in their situation.
As first-time parents, Jared says him and Dana don’t know any other reality.
“We’ve managed to learn to not let the diagnosis define our children,” he says.
It can be hard to see younger children who are doing things his kids can’t do, yet, he says. But the small stuff becomes a big deal, such as when his daughter was able to count to 10.
“I have the most beautiful kids, the most amazing kids and the happiest kids I’ve seen,” says Jared.
Taylor, who is starting to speak, is a girly girl with a great personality, says Dana. Cole is the comedian of the trio, always looking for a reaction. And Brody, the baby, is the sensitive one.
To donate or get involved, visit www.threetobe.org