April 2, 2015 by
If, for several times a week for weeks on end, you had to bring your child to speech, physical or occupational therapy, the waiting room might become the living room in your home away from home. Not a very fun place to spend time with your child.
Brandon Smalling, a Tanque Verde high school senior, set out to change that experience for our outpatient pediatric therapies patients this school year.
At 17 years old, Brandon is a strapping, bright young man with a quick smile and great big heart. It’s hard to imagine him as the small 1.5 pound preemie that arrived at just 24 weeks of gestation at TMC in 1997.
“I wasn’t expected to live,” he said. “I had a 50 percent chance of living and out of that I had a 50 percent chance of living life without major health problems.”
Brandon spent the first three and half months of his life in the Tucson Medical Center NICU. Just two weeks prior to his original due date, Brandon was sent home, but his visits to the hospital didn’t end.
Like many children who are born prematurely, Brandon experienced additional health complications. Surgeries as well as physical, occupational and speech therapies brought Brandon back to TMC for Children on a regular basis over the next few years. The Pediatric Therapies waiting room became a mainstay while Brandon underwent therapy to address the complications related to his birth and subsequent health problems.
Over the years Brandon and his family forged a strong relationship with the TMC for Children staff and are avid supporters of TMC for Children and Children’s Miracle Network.This year, Brandon took his support to a new level, renovating the TMC for Children’s Pediatric Therapies waiting room as part of his Eagle Scout project.
Brandon worked with the Pediatric Therapies staff to design a new look for the waiting room. He raised the money and organized a complete face-lift for the space so that it might be more welcoming and comfortable for families. Gone are the old bulletin boards cluttered with flyers. In their place are bright clean walls, thanks to AZ Cleaning Systems, which donated the odorless Dunn Edwards paint, the licensed painters, supplies and tools. There are fun sensory wall activities for children as well as ample space that allows for those in wheelchairs to wait comfortably.
Visitors to TMC for Children’s Pediatric Therapies will notice a big difference when they step into the foyer thanks to a young man whose humble response when asked about his motivation was, “I generally don’t like to talk about my story because I believe that it doesn’t matter what you went through, what matters is the man you have become. In fact, the only times I talk about it is when I am either asked or when I believe I can help someone by sharing my story. Like now, I believe my story can help… I want to do this project because I believe I owe it to TMC for Children and Children’s Miracle Network. I want to give back to them and believe this project can do just that.”
Thank you Brandon.