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St. Vincent Healthcare holding fundraiser for pediatric patients

Posted at 9:47 PM, Mar 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-24 11:55:14-04

BILLINGS - St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation’s annual “Call for Kids” Mediathon airs Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Cat Country 102.9.

The fundraiser helps pediatric patients get the best possible care close to home.

Kristian Erskine knows the importance. His five-year-old son, Kage, began to show some baffling changes about a year and a half ago.

“You could watch where one of his eyes was completely going cross-eyed. Where he was basically losing control of it,” Kristian says.

Kage also began showing an aversion to what had been some of his favorite foods.

“He started to look at it with angst and fear. He would say that it was uncomfortable to chew,” Kristian recalls.

He was also struggling with speech.

His parents had no idea what was causing it until they got a diagnosis at St. Vincent’s Pediatric Specialty Clinic. Kage has a neurological disorder known as Dyspraxia.

“The way I explain it to families is it is a coordination problem where the brain kind of knows what it wants to do, but can’t quite coordinate with the muscles—so you see some clumsiness and difficulty speaking, which is what brought Kage to us,” says nurse practitioner Laura Forcella. “You can see it in smaller ways, too, like eye movements. Anything where the brain is trying to coordinate those muscular movements can be affected.”

Even though Erskine and his wife finally had some answers, they also had a lot of fear.

“You don’t think about that it is such an issue until you start getting told things like it would be good to start teaching your son to talk through a tablet in case he loses the ability to talk,” says Kristian.

But now that they knew exactly what Kage was dealing with, his team at St. V’s began mapping out a new approach for his therapies.

“A kid who is just having trouble saying R’s or L’s, for example, needs one kind of therapy that targets those phonetic sounds. When it’s a true muscular coordination concern (like Kage) we need to target how to make those muscles move in a much different way.”

Kage goes to speech therapy twice a week along with occupational and food aversion therapy. His father says he is making great progress.

“Six months, he couldn’t make (the K sound) at all. And now it is pretty much on demand for him. He just has to think about it,” says Kristian.

“When I first met him, I could probably understand a couple words here and there-- especially if it had a context clue,” says Forcella. “But now you can understand so much more of what he is trying to say.”

Another example of the difference your call for kids can make.

“His level of confidence and growth has been exponential to what it was,” says Kristian.

Q2 is a sponsor of Call for Kids. Last year, more than $117,000 was raised for Children’s Healthcare services, including the region’s first Pediatric Intensive Care Unit staffed 24/7 by Pediatric Intensivists and the only Pediatric Surgery program in Eastern Montana.

You can donate online by clicking here:

You can also text KIDS to 32037 or call 406-237-3607

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