December 2008 Issue
Lending a Hand
Pam Frank’s voice breaks as she watches her son, Doug, struggle to write his name. Deprived of oxygen at birth, the 24-year-old has learned to live with cerebral palsy, a muscular condition resulting from trauma to the brain that affects more than 800,000 Americans.
“Whenever I feel frustrated or tired, all I have to do is look at Doug and see what a happy guy he is,” Frank says. “He can’t talk, eat by mouth or hold a pen by himself. But that doesn’t deter him.
“My son is my pride and joy and my inspiration,” she adds. “For years, I’ve looked for ways to help him.”
This fall, another opportunity to do that presented itself, when Frank became president of the new Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky chapter of the national advocacy group, Reaching for the Stars. The nonprofit organization, headquartered in Georgia, builds community awareness about cerebral palsy and raises money to research a cure. In September, chapter members launched a campaign to place the Reaching for the Stars logo on state license plates. The group must collect signatures by February 14 from 500 Ohio drivers who pledge to purchase plates once they’re available. Reaching for the Stars will receive $15 from every sale.
“People who support those with cerebral palsy are deeply loving people,” Frank says. “The license plates will help spread awareness about the condition. Maybe you’ll be behind a vehicle with a Reaching for the Stars logo when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, or see one in the parking lot of your local grocery store.
“We hope seeing the plates will get the public to think about cerebral palsy,” Frank adds, “and the term will become more than words — it will add purpose to your plate.”