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Fundraiser set to help daughter with cerebral palsy

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST
(Photo provided)
Sophia Day's parents, Carly Day and Brandon Swindells, hold their daughter in this family portrait. Sophia is three years old, but cannot walk because she has cerebral palsy. A benefit is being held for Sophia on Saturday at the Morris Country Club.

MORRIS – Carly Day is waiting for the moment when her three-year-old daughter Sophia asks her the inevitable question – “Why can’t I walk like everyone else?”

“So far she hasn’t asked, but she is definitely aware,” Day said. “Just last week she was watching one of her TV shows and said ‘I wish I could run fast like Caillou.’ ”

Sophia was born premature through an emergency C-section and suffered cardiac arrest. She was then diagnosed with a severe intestinal deformity that kept her in the hospital for the first four months of her life.

After healing from her initial complications, Sophia was diagnosed with cerebral palsy about a year ago, a disorder that greatly affects her physical development.

At 3 years old, she has the physicality of a 7-month-old and cannot walk.

“Intellectually, she is a super bright young lady,” said Martha Shugart, Sophia’s grandmother. “She exceeds on all of the standardized testing for her age, but physically, she’s greatly challenged.”

The toddler attends weekly therapy sessions at White Oak Elementary School, where she goes to school and works daily to train her muscles to walk. She also goes to “equine therapy” once a week where she rides horses.

“All she wants to do is walk,” Shugart said. “If she says it once a day, she says it 500 times a day – ‘I’m gonna’ walk.’ ”

But Sophia’s parents, Carly Day and Brandon Swindells, know their toddler will need much more therapy and medical treatments to reach her goal, which could mean mounting medical bills.

Tracy Zabel, Carly’s co-worker at the Morris Country Club, saw how hard Carly is working for her child and has organized a fundraiser for Sophia this Saturday with all proceeds going toward the future medical needs of the Day family.

“[Carly] is always looking into grants and programs that can help her out, but there is only so much help,” Zabel said. “This little girl will need a lot more medical attention.”

Carly said they are currently looking into a special surgery for Sophia that could greatly increase her chances of walking.

“Nothing is for sure yet, but her therapist said she would make a great candidate,” Carly said.

Saturday’s fundraiser will be at the Morris Country Club from 7 to 11 p.m. and will include a silent auction, raffles, photo booth, music, drinks and appetizers. Zabel said several large-ticket items and gift basket items were donated by local businesses for the auction.

Tickets are $25 and include two drinks and appetizers and can be bought at the door or in advance by contacting Tracy at

Carly said Sophia will be at the event to meet everyone.

“It would mean so much to us to have everyone come and support Sophia,” Carly said. “It would help her achieve her dream of walking.”

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