Kieran’s Story of Hope
Amazing things happen when Kieran kicks a soccer ball.
The 18-year-old sports standout is one of two Hope students who won a gold medal June 14 in the soccer skills competition at the Special Olympics State Tournament in Bloomington, IL. The skills exercises included dribbling, shooting, and kicking while running.
“Kieran has always been athletic,” said Derek Forrest, Hope recreation specialist. “We want students to have fun and realize they can do things without people telling them what to do,” Derek added.
In addition to soccer, Kieran also competes in basketball and volleyball. His all-around athletic talent has earned him five gold medals and one bronze in those sports at either the state or local levels.
Since arriving to Hope in 2009, Kieran’s hand and eye coordination has greatly improved, Derek said.
Kieran has been diagnosed with severe mental retardation, but Hope staff members focus on his numerous talents and encourage him to increase his daily living skills so he can one day live as independently as possible. That includes shaving, taking his medication, making his bed and interacting more with peers.
“I am just so proud of him because he has come such a long way,” said Julia White, who became Kieran’s guardian when he was a child after his birth mother, who was her close friend, passed away. At first, Kieran didn’t talk much, but as he got older he spoke more and helped with housework, Julia recalled.
However, as Kieran aged it became harder for her to handle his aggressive behaviors and she worried about his and her family’s safety. That’s when she searched for a place that could better handle his needs–and she found Hope.
“I wanted a place where I knew he would be taken care of and Hope is excellent,” she said.
Kieran now lives in a Hope group home in Springfield and attends Rochester High School, where he also has a cleaning job. Not only does Kieran help out with laundry and other chores at home, but he also assists a housemate who has vision impairment.
Her hope is that when Kieran turns age 21 he can move to an adult group home closer to his family in the Kankakee area.
Hope caseworker Tyler O’Brien said Kieran continues to make gains toward independence and expects him to add more job skills.
“He’s come a long way since he’s been here,” he said. “He has a lot of potential.”
Kieran’s great progress is only possible through your support of The Hope Institute for Children and Families. Miracles happen every day at Hope as we prepare our students for the world and the world for our students. Will you help more students like Kieran succeed with a donation today?
At Hope, we support children and families to achieve optimum growth, independence and joy.
The Hope Institute
15 East Hazel Dell Lane
Springfield, IL 62712