In the popular movie “Forest Gump”, there is a very famous saying. “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what your going to get.” This is a true statement… especially when it comes to our daughter. Ellie was born with a condition called Spina Bifida, which created a hole in her back during development in the womb. Because of this birth defect she was born 5 weeks premature with hydrocephalus (water on the brain) that required a permanent vp shunt placement in the right ventricle of her brain in order for her to survive. Day two of her life was filled with back and brain surgery. She did so well recovering in the St. Luke’s NICU that the nurses labeled her as the rock star. Since then, she has been our little rock star in our family.
Ellie was also diagnosed with Severe Auditory Neuropathy when she was a one month old. The audiologists told us that the severity of her diagnosis usually ends up with deafness. There was only a one percent chance of her hearing getting better. 6 months after the diagnosis she started showing improvement in her ABR hearing tests. In December 2011, we heard the great news that she can hear above normal. Besides this miracle, she has shown us many others. Since then, Ellie is learning how to navigate through life on wheels and has just begun working with a walker. Because of her amazing perseverance and positive attitude, I believe that Ellie has and will continue to show incredible improvement.
With Ellie’s level of Spina Bifida, there are some issues that obviously won’t change. Ellie can not walk on her own without support. Her continued therapy sessions have helped her in many ways but her progress in regards to her muscle strength and hip strength in her lower extremities are not showing the improvement her doctors and specialists were hoping for.
With these different challenges in our lives, our biggest hurdle regards our living situation. The home that we bought 10 years ago only has 800 square feet of room that Ellie can navigate through. Each room is small and some of the doors are too narrow for her to fit into with her pediatric chair. The bathroom needs to be a lot bigger for her to even get into with her wheel chair. The kitchen is just as difficult for her to maneuver through. After much deliberation with contractors, medical providers, and Ellie’s continued growth, the decision was made to move out of the home and sell it. We are still trying to get it ready to sell due to expensive repairs that need to be completed before we can put it on the market.
Although this is a difficult circumstance to be in and a huge undertaking to be asking help for, I feel that with a little help given by a lot of people, anything is possible. Building a home for Ellie to function in could truly lift a huge burden from us. I believe that it is so important for a family to feel comfortable and without giving Ellie the mobility that she needs to learn to become independent, she may never have the opportunity of becoming the independent and confident person I know she can be. I appreciate your time and attention to our situation and I am so very thankful to share my family’s story with you. In conclusion, life really is like a box of chocolates and you should savor every bite. You never know which bite might give you your biggest blessings!
Want to hear more about Ellie?
Equipment Needed —COMING SOON
We are committed to helping Paralympic Hopefuls reach there potential as athletes.
Meet Tanner Gers:
Once in a while, you meet an individual who has an effortless ability to inspire and motivate everyone around them. Tanner Gers is one of those individuals.
Growing up, Tanner was the All-American boy, excelling in school, sports, and volunteering for organizations like Easter Seals. The All-American story ended on March 28, 2004 though, when a tree shot through Tanner’s windshield, during a tragic auto accident, and impaled him in the face. While emergency services wrote Tanner off, he fought for over 75 minutes before he finally made it to the hospital.
From this accident, Tanner suffered massive head trauma, a traumatic brain injury, fractured his spinal column in multiple places, shattered most of the bones in his face, and a portion of his skull was blown off so severely that his brain was exposed to the air; No wonder emergency services wrote him off. He was lucky to even still be alive when they arrived on the scene! While Tanner did survive this horrible accident, his situation only got worse.
19 days after the fight for his life, Tanner woke up from one of his many surgeries totally blind. The doctors and surgical team had no idea how the accident would affect Tanner’s cognitive and physical function, or his ability to recover from these effects, but now his life was definitely changed forever. During his long road to recovery, Tanner made a decision. He was determined to not become defined by his disability, but rather his ability to achieve his goals and the impact he’d have on the world around him.
Immediately after becoming healthy enough to walk, Tanner enrolled into college. As he became stronger, Tanner became a full-time student, and in 2006, found a job and started working. In 2008, Tanner met two new loves in his life; His wife and Beep Baseball!
The competition and teamwork of baseball for the blind alongside his love for his wife, brought more drive, positivity, and opportunity to Tanner. In 2011, he began running track and field, and was nominated to the U.S. National Team for track and field in the Paralympic division. That summer, Tanner was the Offensive MVP for the National Beep Baseball World Series and became the 2011 ParaPan American Champion in the long jump event. In 2012, Tanner was the National Champion in the long jump and was nominated to represent Team USA at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. In 2013, Tanner made the U.S. World Championship Team for track and field, and once again, was the NBBA Offensive MVP at that year’s World Series!
In 2012, Tanner began his motivational speaking career, presenting at conferences for disabled children, corporate events, colleges, and for public and private schools. In 2013, ABSolutely Lean, a nutrition and fitness consultation business published two of Tanner’s nutrition books and his digital fitness program.
Since 2010, Tanner has coached and written athletic development programs for developmental athletes dreaming of achieving greatness in track and field, baseball, football, volleyball, cycling and cross country. In 2014, Tanner wanted to provide athletes across the world the information, techniques, and methods used by the top professionals in the industry to help their athletes achieve greatness and launched www.theathletesummit.com Tanner designed this free resource for one purpose. To help athletes across the world and their coaches achieve greatness in their sport, and in life!
Tanner is committed to serving others and helping them achieve their inner greatness, but he too needs the support of others to fulfill his athletic dreams. While his international athletic success has provided a platform to inspire and motivate the masses, he’s partnered with the J Rodie Hope Alliance to make his dreams, and the dreams, goals, and aspirations of so many others come true. Tanner will tell you that the most fulfilling things he has ever done in life surround him serving and helping others. Consider giving your gift to the J Rodie Hope Alliance and your gift will be given over and over again, by helping people with disabilities overcome their daily struggles and J Rodie Hope Alliance Ambassadors like Tanner inspire the world to achieve their wildest dreams!
Name: Tanner Gers Sport: Para Track and Field Event: Long Jump, 100m Height: 5’8” Current Residence: Phoenix Arizona College: Pima Community College
- 2012 Paralympic Games
- 2012 U.S. Paralympic Track & Field Trials – Gold (Long Jump)
- 2011 Parapan American Games – Gold (Long Jump)
- 2011 National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA) – Most Valuable Player
Fun Facts: Motivational speaker who enjoys community outreach, playing baseball for the blind, cooking and dancing with his wife, Rosa.
Videos of Tanner