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Strength of a Third Grader

Posted on: October 3, 2017
Ethan with his principal and teachers at the walk.

Elementary student faced with Apraxia is encouraged by strength and surrounded by love.

Cleves, September 2017 – On September 17, 2017, hundreds of supporters walked for children with Apraxia of speech. One of those children is a student at Three Rivers Elementary, Ethan Gregory.  Just as it was on Sunday, Ethan might feel alone with his diagnosis, but he will certainly never have to walk through life alone. Ethan’s Principal, teachers, family, and friends walked with him supporting him during the Cincinnati Walk, even dressed in matching shirts that read Ethan’s Entourage. He is surrounded by staff and friends at his elementary who know just how special he is and will stop at nothing to ensure he knows it as well. Ethan was not the only child supported during the walk; this year, there were over 600 participants who supported 48 Apraxia families by raising over $30,000 for individuals just like Ethan.

Ethan, a third-grade student, was diagnosed with severe Apraxia of language and oral motor in 2012. Apraxia is a severe neurological speech and motor disorder that affects a child's ability to clearly and correctly produce sounds, syllables, and words.  This motor planning disorder causes children to have difficulty programming and planning speech movements.  The most obvious thing that people notice is that the child has significantly limited, unclear or no speech.  So, while children with Apraxia understand language and know what they want to say, they are unable to translate those thoughts into speech that is consistently understood by others.  Children with Apraxia require intensive speech, oral motor, physical and occupational therapy.


In an email from Ethan’s mom, it states, “Imagine being stuck in a world where you can understand perfectly well, but you don’t have a voice to communicate; this is the world that Ethan Gregory lived in.” This seems to be where staff at Three Rivers Elementary shine. One of Ethan’s teachers, Vivian Volpenhein stated, “Ethan is new to our school this year and we are happy to have him here at Three Rivers Elementary. He seems like he is adjusting well to his new school, students, and teachers!” When a walk took place on the weekend, there was zero hesitation from those staff members that work so closely with Ethan every day to join in and walk every step with him.  




Attached photo: (left to right back row) Adam Biedenbach, Robin Booth, Vivian Volpenhein, Gretchen Soudrette, (front) Ethan Gregory