Tanner Willey, who recently turned 4, son of Leah Willey and Joshua Brown from Carroll and Tim Willey and Shawnell Rush from Glidden was the inspiration behind a fundraiser to purchase toys and games for use in the St. Anthony Speech Therapy Department. Tanner is a student at Bright Beginnings Preschool and Daycare in Carroll and was diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). The Willeys' fundraiser sold t-shirts that say "We Wear Blue for Apraxia Awareness".
CAS It is an uncommon speech disorder in which a child has difficulty making accurate movements when speaking. CAS is often treated with speech therapy, in which children practice the correct way to say words, syllables and phrases with the help of a speech-language pathologist. Tanner also uses a speech generator, better known as a “talkie”. At only a few weeks of use it is making it easier to communicate with his family and friends.
“We really wanted to spread awareness of a silent “gift” that our son has,” said Leah Willey. “When he was diagnosed, we had absolutely no idea what it was. We wanted other parents to know that they aren’t alone if they have a little one with Apraxia, and that it is not something that makes him different, it is something that makes him stronger.”
The Willey’s initial goal was to raise $300 to donate to the speech therapy department to replace broken toys, those with missing pieces and batteries. Tanner and Leah brought a check with them to his regular appointment on Monday, October 4th to give to the staff at St. Anthony. In all, they were able to donate $1,284.64. The Willey family has partnered with Kelsey Allen of Blissful Adventure Designs in Glidden to hand press the shirts, 101 orders.
“We are forever grateful for the help from Baylen (Mikkelsen, Speech Therapist) and the others,” said Leah. “Tanner ‘plays’ with Baylen twice a week, and even tells me that Baylen is one of his best friends.”
His family, doctors, and speech pathologist are very optimistic that he will speak normally within a few years. “But what is normal these days? Even if he doesn’t, he will always be loved and overcome anything he sets his heart to,” added Leah.
Pictured from left to right: (front row) Leah and Tanner Willey, and Baylen Mikkelsen of St. Anthony, Back row is Mackenzie Wittrock, Leah Lechtenberg and Trish Roberts, all of St. Anthony.
- speech therapy