At only seven months old, Rachel Dorocak became paralyzed from the effects of Transverse Myelitis (TM) due to swelling in her spinal cord following a respiratory infection. Initially, she was paralyzed from the neck down. After four years of extensive therapy, she gained use of her arms and hands and could ambulate short distances with long leg braces and cuffed crutches.
For her first birthday, her brothers -- then ages 4 and 6 -- started a program called Reading for Rachel. Through their creative endeavors they encouraged their peers to get sponsors for reading books to raise money for TM research in Rachel’s honor.
What Kevin and Matthew have done for Rachel, and the 34,000 other Americans affected by TM, truly embodies the Betterment mission. That is why Rachel and her family were such worthy recipients for the 1st Annual Cleveland event in 2004.
Funds raised at the event helped the Dorocak’s purchase a piece of Rachel’s therapy equipment that is critical to her ability to walk but not covered under her family’s insurance. This equipment will also help other children for years to come as the Dorocaks plan to share the equipment with other children when Rachel progresses to the next level of therapy.
“Having this equipment is important to us so we can keep Rachel as active as possible,” said Rachel’s mom Cathy. “And, after only six months on the equipment, she has strengthened her arm and leg muscles allowing her to more fearlessly walk with shorter leg braces!”
Rachel has just finished Kindergarten, and according to her mom, “her independence and strength continue to improve.” And, Kevin & Matthew’s philanthropic endeavors continue to get stronger as well. They have raised a total of $40,000 in just five short years of the Reading for Rachel program!