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Device improves walking of Worcester County man born with cerebral palsy - Cam Jandrow
Published, APR. 03, 2024  Spectrum News 1

ATHOL, Mass. – Many of us do it every day without thinking. Going for a walk is almost second nature, something many of us may even take for granted.

But for Josh Hunt, who was born with cerebral palsy, which impacts his ability to move and posture, walking was a difficult thing to do for most of his life.

"I've had partial paralysis since birth due to the lack of oxygen in my brain," said Hunt. "So, nothing fully developed."


What You Need To Know

  • Josh Hunt was born with cerebral palsy, which severely impacted his development as a child

  • Hunt didn't walk until he was 3, and once he took those steps, they were very painful

  • Hunt is now using electronic stimulation as a way to help him move around more normally and without pain

Hunt didn't start walking until he was 3 years old. When he did walk, he wouldn't do much, as the pain was unbearable. His condition made him a target for bullying at school, and the struggle led him down a long and dark path.

"At some point, was in a depressive state, negative thoughts," Hunt said. "Just wanted to end it all because of all the pain."

Hunt scoured the internet in hopes of a miracle. It was then he came across electrical stimulation. He found a device which would send electrical waves to his nerves, allowing them to function closer to normal. 

However, he couldn't afford the device.

"I just thought I was never going to walk anymore," he said.

Hunt's wish for a miracle came true. 

Funding from nonprofits In My Running Shoes and the Ethan Henry Lecours Foundation allowed him to get the device.

After 42 years, he was then able to walk more normally this past October, steps he'll never forget.

"Nerve-wracking," Hunt said, when asked about his first steps with the device. "The emotion I felt at that time was so overwhelming. My wife and I were in tears because after so long, I could finally walk normal."

The device sits just below Hunt's knee. He controls it through an app on his phone.

We went for a walk with Josh around a local park, something that would have caused him significant pain a few months ago.

"I'm not stopping as often," said Hunt. "I can hold my wife's hand and walk long distances."

Heading into his first summer with the device, Hunt plans on taking long walks on the beach with his wife. He wants to make up for all the summers he lost.

He has a message to others in a similar situation.

"There are resources out there that you can take advantage of," Hunt said. "You don't have to struggle, be alone. Just have to get motivated to do it."

The Ethan Henry Lecours Foundation Awards West Bay Residential Services Two Grants - Michael Beauregard  
Posted Thu, Oct 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm ET

October 1st [Warwick] – Staff of West Bay Residential Services, a non-profit organization that provides care to adults with developmental disabilities, witnessed philanthropy first-hand on Tuesday, September 24th.  Julie Howard-Lecours, Founder and President of The Ethan Henry Lecours Foundation, personally visited two West Bay Warwick homes to award grants for much needed, new equipment.  The Ethan Henry Lecours Foundation was started in 2011 and focuses on helping families and organizations care for underprivileged children and individuals with developmental disabilities and special needs. 

AnnMarie Gregson, a physical therapist at West Bay for 22 years, submitted the proposal on behalf of two individuals with mobility issues.  The funds will go towards purchasing a new En-fold chair and a barrier-free lift. 

 This equipment, due to the specialized purposes, is not covered by health insurance or SSDI, nor is it funded by the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals.  “It has become extremely difficult to acquire any medical or modified equipment”, said AnneMarie.  The dedicated West Bay leadership continues to adapt in an ailing economy, finding new sources of funding and providing the highest level of care in spite of budget constraints over the past five years. 

Judy Crowley and John Petit have directly benefited from the charitable mission of The Ethan Henry Lecours Foundation.  Judy will experience a far more comfortable life when her new multipurpose end-chair arrives.  West Bay's direct-care staff eagerly anticipate the new equipment for John as well, making transfer from his chair to various areas far easier with the new barrier-free lift installation.  Julie Howard-Lecours said: “Being here is truly remarkable on so many levels.  We are a young foundation, so we are still forging our identity.  Originally, our focus was on younger children, but being here today to help these wonderful people, broadens the scope of our mission statement.  We hope to make a difference in their lives the same way Ethan forever changed ours.”  Julie, the mother of Ethan Lecours, the heroic little boy whose life inspired the formation of the foundation, was joined by Ethan's father, Steve Lecours, and other Board Trustees on her visit to the West Bay homes.  It was an emotionally charged and uplifting experience for everyone present.   

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West Bay Residential Services, Inc. provides care and residential support services to more than 130 individuals with developmental disabilities.  West Bay helps individuals make daily choices, maintain friend and family relationships and have fun while establishing their role in the community.        

About The Ethan Henry Lecours Foundation:

The Ethan Henry Lecours Foundation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Their mission is to provide support to families and organizations caring for individuals with developmental disabilities and special needs, as well as underprivileged children. The Foundation was created as a tribute to the very courageous and brave little boy, Ethan Henry Lecours.

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