Family hopes surgery will help son walk for first time
Posted: Friday, February 18, 2011 9:14 pm
The runway at Everett-Stewart Regional Airport was the setting for a very emotional homecoming Thursday morning for the Cox family of Union City.
John Jackson Cox is home.
Although he was only gone a few days, his trip to the Shriner’s Hospital in St. Louis was a significant one for the 8-year-old.
Jackson, as he is known to family and friends, has a rare form of Dandy-Walker Syndrome, which is an illness similar to cerebral palsy.
Because of the disease, Jackson is unable to walk or talk and requires constant care.
He is the son of Gerald and Lori Cox of Union City.
Dandy-Walker Syndrome is a congenital brain malformation involving the cerebellum and the fluid-filled spaces around it, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Jackson was taken to St. Louis Sunday and underwent double hip surgery early Monday morning. The eight-hour surgery has left him with a cast on each leg.
The casts will be taken off in about six weeks, after which Jackson will be outfitted with a special brace and will have to undergo extensive physical therapy, according to his father.
It is the optimistic opinion of his doctors that all this will ultimately lead to Jackson’s being able to walk unassisted for the first time in his life.
Currently, Jackson has to use a walker to get around and he has a special bicycle he uses.
Jackson has had a total of five major surgeries during his life. Mrs. Cox estimates the cost for all the surgeries is well over $1 million.
The Cox family has relied on the generosity of family, friends and the community … and places like the Shriner’s Hospital in St. Louis and the Wings of Hope. The Cox family will not be billed by the hospital or for his flight Thursday and will not be charged for Jackson’s return trip in April.
“They’ve been nothing but wonderful,” Mrs. Cox told The Messenger about the Shriner’s Hospital and the Wings of Hope organization.
Thursday’s homecoming for the Cox family was an emotional scene and with the prospect of Jackson’s being able to walk in the future, it was a milestone in his young life.
It all took place about 10:30 a.m. Thursday when the small single-engine plane appeared on the horizon over Everett-Stewart Regional Airport. The level of excitement dramatically increased among Jackson’s family members who were eagerly awaiting his arrival.
Jackson’s father could hardly contain his emotions. He was the first family member to welcome his son home.
No sooner had the back door of the plane swung open, than Cox descended on his son and gingerly kissed his forehead. The rest of Jackson’s family was close behind, and it wasn’t long before the youngster was being maneuvered out of the plane and into an awaiting ambulance.
For the trip, Jackson had to be strapped on to a gurney. He was covered with blankets and surrounded by several small stuffed animals.
“It’s good,” Cox said about having his son home again.
He said he, too, was very grateful to the Shriner’s Hospital and to the Wings of Hope.
After delivering Jackson to his family in Union City, the two Wings of Hope pilots talked to The Messenger about their organization.
Glen Phariss has been flying since 1997 and has been with the Wings of Hope organization since 2007. Don Karr has been a pilot for about 40 years and has been working with Wings of Hope since 2003.
Wings of Hope has been in existence since 1962 and provides transportation worldwide, except Antarctica. The agency was recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its work.
The humanitarian organization was founded by a group of St. Louis business executives.
“They heard about a nurse in the Turkana desert of Kenya who used an aircraft to attend to sick mothers and children in nomad camps in the desert,” the organization’s website states. The four businessmen provided the nurse with a specially-outfitted Cessna airplane and, from there, the organization grew.
For the Cox family of Union City, the humanitarian organization has been a real blessing in the life of their son.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.18.11