Soccer coach Alex Lalaoui is hoping for a Thanksgiving miracle for a courageous local mother trying to save the life of her critically ill baby who was born last year with Zellweger Syndrome, a rare and catastrophic genetic illness. The father of two has rallied local law enforcement and fire department soccer teams to participate in a tournament on Sunday, November 22nd in Jersey City and has also helped create a moving online video highlighting the 27-year-old mother's story; a struggle to be a full time caregiver barely able to make ends meet.
(PRWEB) November 12, 2009 -- When New Jersey soccer coach Alex Lalaoui from The Soccer Learning Center met Lillian Whitted, a 27-year-old Corrections Officer from Jersey City, he knew he had to help. A father of two, Lalaoui listened as Whitted, a single mother of two boys, told him about her struggles to keep her youngest son alive. Now Lalaoui is hoping for a Thanksgiving miracle for the family, hoping the community that Whitted protects as a Corrections Officer, now comes to her aid at a soccer tournament he is organizing on Sunday, November 22nd at St. Peter's College in Jersey City.
Life wasn’t like this a little more than a year ago for the young mother. Whitted was in a committed relationship. She was about to give birth to a second child. Her career as a respected Hudson County Corrections Officer was nearing its sixth year.
But the world she once knew changed forever on September 22, 2008 when her son, Kenneth was born two months premature. He wasn’t breathing. The doctors knew something was very wrong with her baby. Four months later, they found a name; Zellweger Syndrome, a rare genetic illness with no cure. Doctors told Whitted her son wouldn’t live beyond six months of age.
Despite being encouraged to put Kenneth on hospice, once when he was only suffering from a urinary tract infection, Whitted refuses to give up, refuses to lose hope that a cure might be waiting for her little son. And Kenneth, now fourteen-months old, keeps fighting, hooked up to a ventilator and attached to the monitors and intravenous lines that keep him alive.
But how much does it cost for a mother to stop working to care for her sick child? In Whitted’s case, it has cost her everything. She’s heavily in debt, harassed by creditors, and not even sure how she will be able to pay next month’s rent. Her car was towed away so she now relies on public transportation just to see her hospitalized son. Her telephone, cable and Internet services have all been disconnected. Her electric was days away from being turned off before Lalaoui intervened on her behalf. Each day is a struggle, but for now, it’s another day with her son that makes her the most content.
“I hear this quite often,” said Lauren Agoratus a volunteer for National Family Caregivers Association and the New Jersey Coordinator for Family Voices. “The financial stress of having a child with special needs is tremendous.” And she speaks from experience. She almost lost her home after her special needs daughter was born seventeen years ago.
“I’ve had single moms who have been told to quit their jobs and go on Medicaid so their kids can get insurance. It’s sad.” She added.
For today, Whitted is relying on the generosity of her community to help get by. “This could happen to any of us,” said Lalaoui, who is putting together the special tournament with teams of officers from the Hudson County Corrections Department, Jersey City and Hoboken Police and Fire Departments, the Union CIty Police Department, the Port Authority Police Department, and the New Jersey State Police.
A video on Lalaoui's website, "Breath by Breath," chronicles Whitted's struggle and allows viewers to learn more about the tournament and make instant online donations to the family.
"Lillian is an amazing and inspiring mom, and we hope she gets the help she so desperately needs," he added.
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