Donations pour in to help brain-damaged toddler

Two-year-old Emerson Dean, who nearly drowned in her family’s pool, will be heading to a high-tech treatment center in Los Angeles after receiving enough money from a “blogction” and getting help from a New Orleans businessman.

Emerson, who is from Luling, was pulled out of a pool without a pulse last June. The toddler spent five months in the hospital and has been undergoing rehab for the last three months. However, some alternative treatment options her parents wanted to try were not covered by their insurance.

Emerson’s mother, Barbara, decided to hold an auction on her blog with 119 items that were donated by local businesses and residents. The family raised $2,000 through the auction, but came up $1,400 short of the amount needed to send Emerson to a three-week session at the Napa Center in Los Angeles.

The center offers intense therapy treatments to help people reach or maintain increased independence in their everyday lives.

Businessman Sidney Torres, president of STD Waste and Debris Services, met with the family after hearing their story and ponied up the $1,400 needed to send Emerson to California.

“It was very unexpected and we are so thankful and can’t explain how blessed we are from (Torres’) and everyone’s donations,” Barbara said. “Sidney is a very nice man and he was very genuine when he was talking to Emerson.”

Torres’ company will be taking over garbage collection duties in the parish at the end of the month.

Though the family has enough money to send Emerson to the Napa Center, they still need help with traveling costs. So friends of the family will hold a fundraiser this Saturday at 107 Badalamenti St. in Luling.

The event starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m.

They are going to be selling jambalaya bowls for $3. There will also be  vendors at the fundraiser who are going to donate their proceeds to Emerson and her family. The vendors include Thirty-one, Sentsy, My Sister’s Keepsakes and a massage therapist. PUSH for EMERSON T-shirts and specialty items will be sold as well.

Besides travel expenses, any extra money raised would be used to send Emerson to hippotherapy treatments. It is offered to anyone suffering from cognitive, physical and even emotional disabilities.

“Because horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength,” Barbara said. “For individuals with mental or emotional disabilities, the unique relationship formed with the horse can lead to increased confidence, patience and self-esteem.”

Emerson is already visiting a hippotherapy clinic in LaPlace, but her parents are having to pay her own way since the treatments are not covered by insurance.

“We are also looking into water therapy, which I know is odd because water is what got Emerson into this situation,” Barbara said. “Her neurologist highly recommends this as well as massage therapy for muscle tone.”

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