Family asks community’s support to help baby attend special school

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 3, 2002

MONTICELLO — A Lawrence County family needs community supportto help a toddler have opportunities that other children often takefor granted.

Donations are needed to help Kierra Ford, the 23-month-olddaughter of Jonlyn Garry and Keyon Ford, attend the Magnolia SpeechSchool in Jackson so she may learn to communicate the way mostchildren do at her age.

Kierra has overcome many obstacles since she was born deaf andsuffering from a number of health problems almost two years ago,but now her mother wants to make sure her daughter has everyopportunity to grow and experience life.

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“I want what’s best for her,” said Garry, mentioning theoutstanding reputation of the speech school she hopes her daughterwill attend this fall.

The private school will provide Kierra with intensiveauditory/oral instruction to help her communicate better despitebeing hearing-impaired.

Kierra is scheduled to undergo surgery this fall to receivecochlear implants, which will hopefully boost her hearing. Thesurgery will be covered under the family’s Medicaid benefits.

“Once she has the cochlear implants, the school will be able toteach her to talk,” said Garry.

Garry, who has not worked during the last year while stayinghome with her daughter, hopes to receive enough donations to beable to move to Clinton, just 10 minutes away from the school.

Tuition at Magnolia Speech School will cost Kierra’s familyabout $400 a month, totaling around $20,000 before Ford is readyfor first grade at a public elementary school, where she should beable to attend regular classes.

Kierra’s family believes the expense for the next few years willbe worthwhile if the infant can be given the chance to talk andhear like normal children.

“We visited the school, and I got to talk with one girl who hadthe cochlear implants, and you wouldn’t even know it. It wasamazing,” said Ford’s grandmother, Shirley “Poochie” Williams.

A Kierra Ford benefit fund account has been set up at State Bankin Monticello. A few churches in Lawrence County have alreadydonated money to the fund.

“We appreciate any donation we get. Every little bit will help,”said Garry, who is a 1993 Lawrence County High School graduate.

Garry hopes to go to college in Jackson to major in cosmetologyonce Kierra is situated in her new school. Kierra has been underclose supervision by her mother since her birth and even before,said Garry.

“The doctors could tell she had (medical) problems before shewas born. They told me she might be born with Down syndrome orpossibly die right after she was born,” said Garry.

Kierra proved the doctors wrong and overcame the odds, althoughshe has suffered from numerous health problems.

“She was born with two holes in her heart. She had surgery inOctober to repair those, and she did excellent,” said Garry. “Shehad surgery on Monday, and we were home by Friday.”

Kierra also spent the first month of her life in the hospitalafter suffering seizures during the first few weeks. She also has ahistory of cranofacial abnormalities and bronchitis.

“I call her my miracle baby because she has been through it,”said her grandmother Williams.

Kierra’s other grandparents are Johnny L. Williams, Lucius andOra Daughtry and Johnny and Barbara Williams.

Garry says despite her health problems, Kierra seems to be anintelligent toddler who has the possibility to accomplish much inher lifetime.

“I wouldn’t trade her for nothing,” said Garry. “I thank Godevery day for her.”