An ounce of prevention, by and large, is worth a pound of cure. But every once in a while things don't work out that way.
Shortly before her first birthday, a very healthy Megan Franklin was taken to the doctor for a routine DPT shot. For the next 10 days Megan's body reacted violently to the immunization that was meant to keep her well. Her fever reached 106 degrees and stayed there day after day. Eventually she developed convulsions. At one point she stopped breathing.When the fevers finally subsided, Megan was diagnosed as having cerebral palsy.
That was three years ago. Since then, George and Shanna Franklin's sadness and anger over Megan's condition has been replaced by the pressing new realities of daily life - the need for wheelchairs and ramps and respite care.
When they've needed care, they've turned to the Utah Easter Seal Society.
Now the Easter Seal Society is turning to Utahns to help bolster the funds they need to help families like the Franklins.
From now through Nov. 21, Utah Easter Seals, in conjunction with the Utah food service industry, is sponsoring a "We Care" program to tap into the money that Utahns spend to dine out. The program coincides with Dining Out Month.
For every one of certain products that diners buy at local restaurants and food services participating in the program, a percentage of the profit is donated to Easter Seals. Food service operations at local universities are also participating.
The Utah Easter Seal Society is hoping to raise $20,000 in this first year of "We Care," according to Sandi Murri, program coordinator. The money raised in Utah will stay in Utah, she adds. The program also overlaps into Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona and Nevada.
Although the "We Care" Easter Seals/food industry tie-in has been successful in Canada for several years, the Utah Easter Seal Society is the first to try it in the United States.
The Utah Restaurant Association and Nicholas & Co. food distributors have been particularly supportive of the Utah effort, says Murri.
Funds raised will be used to buy new equipment, such as wheelchairs and car seats for handicapped children. The equipment is on loan to those who need it. The money will also help fund Easter Seals' equestrian program.
Easter Seals also provides a referral service to families like the Franklins, who didn't know where to turn to for help when they were suddenly faced with Megan's disabilities. Through Easter Seals they found the names of organizations that could help them pay for a wheelchair ramp for their car, and helped them with the confusing paperwork required for insurance coverage.
They are hoping they will soon be able to take advantage of the Easter Seal Family Friends program, which provides babysitting help from a senior citizen a few hours a week. So far Easter Seals has not been able to find a "family friend" who is willing to make the trip to Megan's home in West Valley.
As for Megan, she remains optimistic. The cerebral palsy did not affect her speech, and the 4-year-old is very expressive about her life.
"It's hectic," she told her parents about her first day of pre-school this year. "But it's bound to get better."