Mason Smith is the child of Tammy Smith and Melvin Coogler.  He is the little brother to Rae and Brooklyn and the older brother to Marley and Bailey.  He was born with Spina bifida with Arnold-Chiari malformation type two and hydrocephalus. As a result, Mason was wheelchair bound, he had to have a tracheostomy, a feeding tube, and a VP shunt to drain fluid from his head. Mason spent years in the hospital as a baby fighting for his life. At the age of 3 years old, Mason was in foster care. That was when I met Mason for the first time. Mason was originally my foster brother. I fell in love with him from day one. As a 3 year old, Mason was so adorable and smart. He had already overcome so many challenges in his life. Years passed and we were able to be Mason’s forever family. Mason was officially adopted in 2015. Mason grew to be such a caring, happy, little boy who loved to cuddle and spend time with his siblings. Mason would talk with his talking device and loved to call out "Mom" so I could come running to see what he wanted. He would laugh, smile and play during his daily medical treatment. Mason loved school and loved to learn. He attended Central Trail in Sylvania and Deveaux Elementary School in Toledo.  Mason had a total of three back surgeries and multiple stays in the hospital for various respiratory and back infections. He always smiled through it all. Mason sadly and unexpectedly passed away on January 29th, 2024 due to his Arnold-Chiari malformation. He was 13 years old when he passed away.  Mason is greatly missed, but our family knows he is now an angel watching over us. 

Knoah Sweat

This is Knoah Sweat! Knoah is a 17 year old young man who is an 11th grader at Monroe High School (Virtual). Knoah was born with Achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. In November of 2023, Knoah underwent a surgical procedure to correct a common deformity with his spine. Unfortunately, the surgery did not go as planned, and he suffered a T12 spinal cord injury (SCI) among other injuries. This started an almost 6 month journey that took Knoah and his mother, Tonya Bennett (Wright) across the United States. With the type of SCI Knoah experienced, a once able-bodied, independent young man is now dependent on a wheelchair for most mobility needs. Reaching out to several notable surgeons across the United States, seeking help, they spent 8 weeks in Ann Arbor and then 5 weeks in Chicago attending intensive outpatient physical therapy. In late February, the Paley Orthopedic and Spine Institute located in West Palm Beach, FL, reached out, and Dr. David Feldman, along with his team, reviewed Knoah's medical records and agreed Knoah needed another surgery. On March 11, 2024, Knoah underwent a 3rd emergency corrective surgical intervention to help eliminate and improve the complications experienced from the original surgery. Knoah is making amazing strides in his recovery, including walking with the assistance of a walker! When Knoah isn't in physical therapy, he is spending time learning how to fish! 
Knoah's determination and unwillingness to let this stop him, he is seeing life with a new perspective. He was asked, "What is the biggest thing you've learned through this experience?" Knoah replied."Be appreciative of the life you have and don't take it for granted. You never know when it's going to change." As Knoah and his mother approach their final weeks in Florida, they are humbled and grateful for all the support the Monroe community has given them. "As a parent, especially as a mother of a child with medical complications, the journey is sometimes long, dark and scary but  with God and the support of our local agencies, non-profits and the community, this life altering situation brought us hope, faith and love. The promise of better days and unwavering support when it was needed the most means more to me than I can possibly express! I am eternally grateful.

Mia Shinaver

Mia is a 16-year-old Sophomore at Bedford High School. She is the daughter of Josh & Sarah Shinaver, and big sister to Greyson.  Mia enjoys participating in her church, the marching band, camping, and reading. Mia has Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart defect where the heart is enlarged. 

Mia was first diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in 2019 after her first cardiac arrest during a cross-country practice. After diagnosis, Mia was transferred to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital for care and had an internal defibrillator implanted the next day. 

Over the last four years, Mia has survived multiple life threatening arrhythmias, and responded with a positive attitude and ambition to keep going. 

In December 2023 Mia traveled to Boston Children’s Hospital for a bilateral sympathectomy to help with the unanswered arrhythmias. Mia was the second person with HCM to have this surgery done in Boston. 

As an advocate and someone who aspires to have a career in the medical field, she delivers the message of how important quick and thorough cardiac care is to survivability. 

We thank God for always being with our family. We also thank our family and friends that have supported us and helped Mia every day of her journey.

Paisley Dec