PACE — Tamara Owens was worried about her son as soon as she brought him home from the hospital.
Silas had stiff limbs, abnormal sleep patterns and chronic vomiting, among other symptoms.
"Our first pediatrician kept telling me that I was just a nervous, first-time mother," Owens said.
However, after dealing with the symptoms for three months she visited another doctor who diagnosed him with spastic quadriplegia, a form of cerebral palsy which Owens describes as "all four limbs flexed as tight as you can flex them, all the time."
"Silas is G-tube (feeding dependent) and although he can eat some by mouth, most of his feedings are done with the tube to ensure he gets the proper hydration and nutrition," Owens aid.
Silas, now 6 years old, attends a regular first-grade class at Benny Russell Elementary and uses an Apple iPad to help him speak.
However, his mother says Silas has started to notice he cannot move like the other kids.
He was fitted for an electric wheelchair when he was 3 years old that allows him a lot of independent movement — if he can take the wheelchair with him.
However, the Owenses do not have a vehicle large enough to transport the electric wheelchair to school or other activities such as Silas' newest passion, baseball.
"We need a wheelchair van so we can take the wheelchair with us and he can get the most use out of it," said Owens.
The family's friends and supporters at the Living Truth Church in Pace agree. They have scheduled a fundraiser — the Si (short for Silas) Man Can 5K Run/Walk, Rollin with the Homies — for 7 a.m. Sept. 21.
Owens said the ideal vehicle would be a gently used rear- or side-loading van with a lift that can handle Silas' 350-pound electric wheelchair.
The Owenses are no stranger to challenges. Owens was a full-time teacher when Silas was born, but soon had to quit and care of her son.
"We lost half our income at the start," Owens said.
To make financial matters worse, Owens said it's much more expensive to raise a special-needs child. For example, a popular foam floor booster seat for babies can range from $14.99 to $40. The same seat made from the same material for a special-needs child is $300, Owens said.
Moreover, it will only get more expensive as Silas ages and it gets more difficult moving him. Owens said they are constantly saving for a piece of medical equipment or a medical procedure. There are constant therapies, surgeries, medicines and expenses involved with taking care of Silas.
He recently had a seven-hour bilateral hip surgery where surgeons had to cut his femur and realign his hips because his constant flexing was causing his legs to cross. It has taken Silas over four months to recover.
His mother says she is blessed. The reason, other than a mother's love for her son?
"Jesus," Owens said.
Owens helped start a respite care program at Living Truth Church. On the second Saturday of the month, residents can bring their child and siblings for four hours of respite care.