Oxygen-deprived toddler’s progress stuns parents

Johnmark Hurley has a walker to help him get around now, thanks to donations from the community that enabled him to attend ability camps.

Thanks to an outpouring of community support, Johnmark Hurley can let go of the kid-sized wheelchair that had helped the spunky toddler get around.

After heading to two ability camps made possible by community donations, the 3-year-old now uses a walker, but it’s hoped that it soon will also be a tool of the past.

Friends, family and strangers heard about Johnmark’s challenges and also offered up prayers of support, which his parents also credit for his progress.

“I don’t think we thought it would be possible for this to happen so quickly,” Marie Hurley said.

Johnmark’s life has been nothing short of a miracle: He survived 27 minutes without oxygen after birth.

He has cerebral palsy and hypotonia, or low muscle tone. Before heading to two camps this spring and summer, Johnmark could scoot around the house and was just starting to use his leg muscles.

Weeks of camp therapy helped jump-start the boy’s muscles to get him walking.

Parents Marie and Will continue those exercises with him, which is helping the toddler gain more strength every day.

At first Johnmark rebelled against using a walker, the motion probably too difficult at first to master, Will said. Recently, when he hit an open space that allowed him to go as fast as he wanted, he nearly started to run down the wide aisle of a mall.

“I think he’s going to be able to walk without help, in time,” Will said. “That’s our goal.”

Johnmark was enrolled in an ability camp in Canada that offered hyperbaric oxygen treatments and conductive therapy, which can aid mobility and development.

Community donations helped the family reach more than their goal of $9,000 for the five-week camp. With the extra money, Johnmark was able to attend another camp, this one in New York where he received even more therapy, his parents said.

Before the camps, Johnmark’s right hand was always in a fist. That grip is loosening.

The oxygen treatments helped awaken dormant brain cells.

Even his social skills have improved due to Johnmark working so intensely with therapists, who previously were strangers to him.

After three years of physical struggle, Johnmark’s advances in the past three months exceeded even his hopeful parents’ expectations.

“From three months for him to be able to stand being supported by his waist to be supported by his ankles doesn’t really happen very often,” Will said.

“We are so grateful for all the support.”


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