Take a look at March’s Madre of the Month, Maricela’s story, and how she overcame many struggles to advocate for her 3 year-old, Hiedi.
When Heidi was born, she looked like every other healthy baby. The doctors said she was a perfect height and weight for a newborn. However, her mother Maricela began to notice some alarming symptoms in her infant daughter. Heidi wasn’t able to sit up; her body was like gelatin; she began vomiting breast milk; and suffered from chronic congestion.
The doctors diagnosed the nine month-old with a rare condition that enlarged the heart, called ALCAPA (Anomalous Left Coronary Artery from the Pulmonary Artery). The infant would have to have surgery in Dallas or she would not survive.
The four-hour surgery was a success and the two began going to physical therapy sessions to strengthen Heidi’s lungs. It was during these sessions that the physical therapist suggested AVANCE-Austin. Maricela was recommended to AVANCE-Austin because it would give her tools to advocate for Heidi’s health, education, and for both of their futures.
The initial journey at AVANCE proved to be difficult for the now three year-old Heidi. It was the first time she was separated from her mother, even if it was only for a few hours a week. But Maricela began to notice changes in her daughter, and encouraged her. “At AVANCE, Heidi transformed like a butterfly. The first day, Heidi cried so much. But with each class, she was making so many new friends, and her teachers told me how much of a leader she was becoming,” Maricela says.
Both mother and daughter completed their AVANCE classes in December and will participate in our May graduation. Currently Maricela is volunteering at AVANCE and helps toy making instructor, Maria. Heidi is enrolled at Pre-K, where she is thriving.
They will walk across the stage together in May after nine months with courage and strength to receive their AVANCE diploma. Their AVANCE graduation marks yet another milestone in their journey of success together.