Catherine Caceres doesn’t like to ask for help. On paper, the single mother works just three hours a week, teaching Zumba classes at the North Pinellas Branch of the YMCA in Palm Harbor.In reality, Catherine spends nearly every waking moment of every day caring for her three daughters, Breana, age 13, and twins Caitlyn and Maryn, aged 10. While Breana is a healthy, active teenager, both her twin girls have been diagnosed with disabilities that keep Catherine moving throughout the week with physical therapy and doctor’s appointments.Heartbreaking News
Caitlyn was diagnosed two years ago with what doctors eventually determined is an auditory processing disorder, a learning disability that means she can’t focus when there is background noise present. “If there’s background noise, it’s like short-term memory, she can’t remember anything,” Catherine says. “She has to have everything repeated". Caitlyn previously tried hearing aids, but now attends school with an FM Monitoring System, which is a headset that she wears so her teacher can speak directly to her without interference from outside noise.
Maryn was born with cerebral palsy and a rare birth defect, agenesis of the corpus callosum, which essentially means a critical part of her brain is missing. In the absence of the corpus callosum, the band of white matter connecting the two hemispheres of the brain failed to develop normally. “She is unable to walk, unable to talk,” Catherine says. “She’s unable to feed herself. She cannot write.” Last year, Maryn underwent surgery to break both her feet and release her hamstrings, finally allowing her to have a level base of support, but she still can’t place enough weight on her feet to move about without assistance, meaning she is confined to a wheelchair.
“She understands everything you say,” Catherine says, “but she’s more like a small child even though she’s 10.” Tragically, doctors were unaware of Maryn’s congenital disorder until she began to develop dozens of little blisters all over her body when she was 2 months old. It was only after trying to determine the source of the blisters that they realized her corpus callosum had failed to fully form. Throughout the week, Catherine has to take both her girls to All Children’s Outpatient Center on East Lake Road for physical, occupational and speech therapy.Mounting Costs with No Relief
In October 2014, Catherine bought a used minivan from Friendly Kia to help transport her children, but the $280 monthly car payment is stretching her meager funds to the breaking point. The twins receive health care through Social Security disability payments, but Catherine still has to rely on Section 8 subsidized funding to afford a place to live, food stamps to feed her family and gas assistance.
She receives no money from the girls’ birth father, who abandoned the family when they were just 11 months old.
What Catherine needs most urgently is help retrofitting her van to make it wheelchair-accessible so she can lift Maryn’s wheelchair into the van to take her child to all the appointments that she needs. “That’s why the wheelchair van is much needed,” she says. “I can’t lift her much more. She’s getting way too big".
But the need doesn’t stop there. Catherine’s bathroom also isn’t equipped for a wheelchair, and even the simple task of bathing Maryn is now putting a strain, literally, on Catherine’s shoulders. At 138 pounds, and growing, Maryn now needs two people to help lift her fragile frame in and out of a bathing chair in the bathtub.
Catherine has pleaded with her insurance company to help her provide for her daughters in every way that they need. While insurance did pay for a hospital bed to be installed permanently at her home for Maryn, Catherine says she was told that having a wheelchair-accessible van is considered “a luxury” and therefore not covered.What You Can Do
Catherine Caceres doesn’t like to ask for help. In fact, she never has despite every adversity she has faced. But her community in Palm Harbor is trying to raise awareness of her family’s situation to do more than just retrofit her van and make it wheelchair-accessible. While we hope to raise some of the money needed to help Catherine get her van equipped through the East Lake Varsity Club fundraiser, we know we may not hit the mark needed to cover all the expense. And we want to do more than just retrofit Catherine’s van. We want to provide her and her children with enough support so she doesn’t have to worry about making a monthly car payment and or struggle to provide food and necessities for her girls. These are costs that are never going to go away.
Catherine gives whole-heartedly of herself to the people who live and work in Palm Harbor. Her contributions as a YMCA instructor even prompted a segment on WTSP 10 News with longtime attendees of her class extolling Catherine’s willingness to help them stay healthy through exercise.You can view that news story here
We want to provide Catherine Caceres with a nest egg that her family can use to better their lives and find some joy amid all the heartbreak and obstacles that they have faced over the years. We are asking that you contribute to her family to help their cause because her struggle is not unlike what any of us might someday face – an unexpected medical diagnosis, the anxiety of a parent trying to care for not one, but two children with disabilities, the stress of trying to transport a loved one to necessary appointments and urgent medical procedures.
With donations, Catherine can afford to make her home more accessible for Maryn’s wheelchair. She can reduce the wear and tear on her own body as she struggles to simply lift her child so she can bathe. She can provide a life for her girls and for herself that doesn’t always feel as if she is looking up from behind an insurmountable hurdle.
Recent Cause Activity
Gloria Bone donated $100
Looking forward to seeing life get just a bit easier for your family.
Phil And Amy Sherman donated $100
Karen L donated $50
Sorry I couldn't be at the event. You are taking wonderful care of your beautiful children.
Mary Lewinski donated $350
I hope this helps you and your children. You are a really wonderful person.
Kat Cook donated $50
Cousin Tommy Eisenhauer donated $25 in honor of Mary Frances Daley
Love & encouragement from NYC!
Erin Root donated $25
Jim And Toniann Stewart donated $50
Sorry I couldn't be there for the fundraiser today. I had to work but please know you and your beautiful girls are always in my prayers and I'll do whatever I can to help. ❤️
Anonymous donated $10
Angel Foy donated $100 in honor of Edwin and Dorothy Foy
Love you! Praying you reach your goal!
Cathy Ordiway donated $50
Anonymous donated $25
Adrianna Keifer donated $10
Cathy, I wish it could be a million dollars but this is the most I could do right now. Wishing you all the best and sending love and hugs. You and your girls are amazing and I'm rooting for you every step of the way! XOXO, Adrianna :D
Bob And Doreen Nelson donated $25
Betsy Mercer donated $50
Lena D'agostino donated $20
Good lucky, Cathy and the girls!
Deb Albanese donated $25
Jayneen Muetzel donated $50
Excited for you girls to have this!
Rita Whitten donated $25
Sorry I cannot make it today. I hope the fundraiser goes great!!!
Heath And Laura Muchmore donated $100
Sending our love!
Madison And Priya Jayanna donated $10 in honor of Maryn
We really enjoyed meeting you! All the best!
Maryann Breuer donated $50
Cathy, you're an inspiration to is all,
Maureen And Kevin Foy donated $100
Always wishing the best for you Maryn. God Bless you and your family. Love you sweet girl.
Georgie donated $100
Anonymous donated $50
Leave a positive message
Heath And Laura Muchmore$100
Theoni Stathas $100
Maureen And Kevin Foy$100
Phil And Amy Sherman $100
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