It's been two years since a deadly tornado hit Norman, tearing apart one man's family. His wife died in the tornado that left two of his three children severely handicapped.
Five-year-old Ethan Rider is paraplegic. The tornado certainly scarred the Rider family. Severe weather still scares the kids. But Ethan can teach us all a thing or two about preparation and determination. This little man is proof that big inspiration can come in tiny packages.
On May 10, 2010, devastating tornadoes ripped through Norman. As homeowners picked up the pieces after the storm, Ricky Rider buried his wife, Tammy. Ricky's 3-year-old daughter Ragan was 15 months at the time. She was in a body cast after suffering severe fractures. Her brother Jason suffered brain trauma and Ethan was paralyzed from the waist down.
"After seeing him a wheelchair for so long, it really makes you cry," said Ricky.
The adults cry, but not Ethan. He can't feel anything below his waist, but on his face you'll always find a smile. It amazes his physical therapist, Sara Stuart.
"He doesn't have any muscle control or sensation below his waist or his hips and legs. So to walk he uses his upper extremities," said Stuart.
But like all 5 year olds, Ethan is on the move.
Doctors at Othro Care services fit the five year old with a Reciprocal Gait Orthosis (RGO), a very sophisticated brace. So when Ethan stands in the RGO he tilts his body to one side and extends his back. The elevation allows the leg to clear the floor and then swing through.
Therapists are working with Ethan so he can gain enough body strength to get from the floor to his wheelchair. Although he will never regain the use of his lower body, he will be able to grow up, work and live independently.
A fund has been set up to pay for Ethan's medical expenses. If you'd like to help send donations to:
Wellness Of Norman
c/o Therapy in Motion
Norman, OK 73072