Tyler is one of those kids that looks at life positively every day. He loves to greet people with a handshake and a hug. He is the class clown, thrives on attention and loves sports. Tyler also has a stubborn side, which leads him to try, try and try again until he achieves a task. This stubborn streak has served him well in his short but challenging life.
In 2006, Tyler was born with Trisomy 21, more commonly known as Down Syndrome. From the start, Tyler has fought to survive. After birth, Tyler spent 51 days in the NICU, where he lost his left kidney due to debris in an umbilical line that obstructed flow to that kidney. At six weeks of age, he struggled with feeding issues due to his cleft soft palate, so a feeding tube was placed. He had surgery on his cleft soft palate when he was eight months old. At age 5, he had surgery to take out his feeding tube. By age 7, he was experiencing speech problems and needed pharyngeal flap surgery.
Through these challenges, his older sisters, Jennie and Emily, and older brother Kevin, expressed their family’s feelings best when they said, “Whatever God gives us we will deal with as a family. This will be tough, but we will do it as a family.”
During his 11 short years, with the support of his family, Tyler has seen a wide range of specialists starting with a pediatric cardiologist and a neonatal nephrologist. He has also seen a gastroenterologist, a craniofacial surgeon, an ear, nose, and throat specialist, and an endocrinologist. Most recently, he receives help from an occupational therapist and speech pathologist.
Tyler’s stubborn streak and his encouraging family have allowed him to lead the life of a pretty normal 5th grader. His daily life includes completing farm chores, working in the garden, reading books, playing video games, watching movies, participating in 4-H and pestering his older sister Megan. His favorite restaurants are Taco John’s and McDonald’s, where he loves to be self-sufficient by ordering his own food.
“Tyler is proof that all it takes to achieve greatness is a strong will and family and community support,” said Tyler’s mom Barb. “He continues to have struggles, but one thing rings true with Tyler: he will overcome, because he always has. Tyler doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘can’t.’”