Drake was born with spina biffida and other developmental delays. University of Tennessee Martin Infant Stimulation, which serves children like Drake across six northwest Tennessee counties, is helping him defy the odds. Without the telethon, this vital program couldn't help him get there.
Positive, happy and destined to dance. Drake Kirk is all personality.
"People have said, you know, you realize it when you have your last child that everything is complete," said his mom Alisse. "And it was."
Alisse didn't know what to expect when Drake was born. A list of conditions like spina bifida, hydrocephalus and club feet loOKed to make normal milestones, like walking, impossible to reach.
Jessica Pryor, early interventionist with UTM Infant Stimulation, remembers when she first met Drake. He was just two months old.
"Well, the first time I saw him he had casts, you know, both legs," Jessica told me.
Now, at two years old, he proves every day that nothing will hold him back.
"I don't expect anything because there's no boundaries for him," Alisse said. "He's proven it to us that there is hope and to have faith in anything can happen."
"She's been a blessing to me," Alisse said of Jessica's support and guidance.
That work to help kids like Drake and his family reach their goals isn't cheap.
"We're serving more kids, we're serving a larger area, and so, we don't receive any extra funds," explained Lori Wilson, program director with UTM Infant Stimulation.
Travel is their biggest expense, crucial to their cause. In April, they got bad news.
"It was kind of scary to get the call that, you know, we've run out of funds travel-wise," Lori said. "But hey, you know what, we got the telethon money. So, we're gonna' be ok."
Telethon dollars allowed them to continue traveling to families in northwest Tennessee. That means Jessica can keep working to help Drake strengthen those arm muscles and this family's will to keep dancing toward the future.
"It's something we're in together," Jessica said.
To learn more about the telethon, including how to get your tickets and how to donate, click here.
To follow Drake's Journey on Facebook, click here.