March 23, 1995 in City

Boys Struggling To ‘Be People’

Doug Clark The Spokesman-Revie
 

In a perfect world, three-year-old cuties Justin and Joshua Kitt would gobble up life as if it were a chocolate fudge sundae with a cherry on top.

There would be no appeals for new wheelchairs. No endless physical therapy sessions.

No daily choking and wheezing from fluids that build up in their lungs.

No such thing as cerebral palsy.

Because of a freak accident, however, these Spokane Valley twins greeted the world 2 1/2 months early.

That has made all the difference.

Together the twins didn’t weigh more than a bag of sugar. It wasn’t so many years ago when such puny preemies, with immature lungs, would have simply died.

Justin and Joshua pulled through thanks to modern medicine and the care they received at Deaconess Medical Center.

The $350,000 medical bill was a fraction of the cost. Because of damage to their brains, the twins face a lifetime of physical challenges.

Justin and Joshua are considered quadriplegics although they have movement in their shoulders and arms.

They aren’t retarded. But like many cerebral palsy victims, Justin and Joshua lack control over the fine motor skills most of us take for granted.

“They’re trapped inside of bodies that don’t work properly,” explains Christine, 37, who has three other children besides her twins.

“But I really love these guys,” she adds. “They are teachable. Every time I see a gain, it’s like, Yee-haw!”

These two are definitely adorable. I met them the other day after a call from Michael Moore.

Moore, 43, is an occupational therapist with the little-known, but huge-hearted Washington Elks Therapy Program for Children.

The Elks clubs spend $900,000 a year for 13 therapists who work with disabled kids in their homes.

Parents don’t pay a dime. The Elks program, which began in 1954, is as pure an example of philanthropy as it gets.

Moore drives 36,000 miles a year throughout Eastern Washington, tirelessly visiting young clients like Justin and Joshua.

“They want so bad to be people,” he says of the twins.

According to Moore, the latest obstacle is getting them manual wheelchairs. They need the specially equipped chairs to be safely transported back and forth from a pre-school program for disabled kids.

The problem is that these wheelchairs cost $3,400 a pop and the Kitt family is anything but well off.

Caring for the twins and her other kids fills Christine’s days and nights. Her husband, Doug, a carpenter, has been laid off lately.

“I certainly never imagined being in this position,” says Christine. “Don’t ask me how we get by. I can’t tell you. I don’t know.”

A pregnant Christine was helping a sick neighbor feed his horses one night in August 1991 when she stumbled over a railroad tie.

She didn’t think she was badly hurt until her labor began the next morning.

The babies were delivered in an emergency C-section.

Christine didn’t know for three weeks whether her children would live or die.

“Up until then I didn’t know if I was going to walk out of the hospital with one baby, two babies or no babies.”

Having a disabled child is every parent’s nightmare.

Imagine the heartache of coping with disabled twins.

Yet Christine remains upbeat and dedicated.

“Christine will do whatever she needs to do to care for these kids,” says Tina Danzig, one of Christine’s best friends.

“She finds ways to make their lives work.”

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The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review

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