October 13, 2000

United Way helps with medical costs

Featured Image

Susan Anthony, an administrative assistant for the Vanderbilt Cancer Patient Care Center, shares a moment with her granddaughter Taylor Traughber, 7. Taylor, who has several medical problems, has been helped by many United Way agencies.(photo by Dana Johnson)

United Way helps with medical costs

Susan Anthony has always given to help others, but now she knows first hand what that help means.

Anthony, an administrative assistant for the Vanderbilt Cancer Patient Care Center, has a seven-year-old granddaughter, Emily Taylor Traughber, who was born with some major medical problems.

“Taylor was born with a very rare genetic disorder called Trisomy 8. It’s an extra number 8 chromosome. The syndrome has only been identified in the last year. There are only about 100 known cases of the syndrome worldwide,” Anthony said.

“She also suffers from a connective tissue disorder. At birth, Taylor’s fingers and toes were very crooked. Her toes were actually bent under her little feet, but after numerous surgeries, she is able to use her hands well and her toes are almost perfectly straight.”

Anthony says Taylor also suffers from the absence of the Corpus Callosum, which is the area of the brain that controls motor skills and speech. She has autistic-like symptoms, along with gastro-intestinal and vision problems.

Taylor is one of four daughters of Stephanie and Christopher Traughber of Cedar Hill, Tennessee, about 45 miles northwest of Nashville.

While her family’s insurance has covered some of her needs, United Way agencies have been there to help beyond that.

“Her medical expenses have been just tremendous,” Anthony said. “Taylor has had 12 surgeries in her seven years. The agencies have helped with walkers and wheelchairs and many other things.”

Agencies stepping up to help Taylor are Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Tennessee Early Intervention, The Bill Wilkerson Speech and Hearing Center and the Tennessee chapter of the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation, along with Vanderbilt Child Development, Childrens Special Services and Tennessee Lions Eye Center.

“Taylor has really progressed wonderfully and continues to amaze us daily. We attribute this to the help we have gotten here at Vanderbilt and through the many agencies here in middle Tennessee,” Anthony said. “Taylor’s progress is ongoing and it would not have been possible had it not been for all the help from the many agencies and people who have all come together as a team to help her.”

Taylor is now mainstreamed in a regular second grade classroom at Jo Byrns Elementary in Robertson County. She has an aide with her throughout the day to help her.

“She walks and runs at her own pace,” Anthony said. “She is age appropriate on everything, except for her speech. Only about 40 to 50 percent of the things Taylor says you would understand. She has a real problem communicating verbally.”

A communication device (actually a lap top computer) has been approved and will help Taylor’s ability to perform in the classroom, her grandmother said.

Anthony, a 12-year Vanderbilt staff member, is now active in helping with the current Vanderbilt Community Giving “Reaching Out to Others” Campaign, which began in August.

The VU Community Giving Campaign raises funds for such charities as the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, Community Shares and the Community Health Charities of Tennessee.

The goal for the 2000 Vanderbilt Community Giving Campaign for the entire university complex is $760,000.

The Vanderbilt Community Giving Campaign ends October 31. Any donation can be made either in a one-time gift or as a payroll deduction. For more information, call the internal campaign office at 343-8759.

For Susan Anthony, the Vanderbilt Community Giving Campaign has come close to home and her family is very thankful for it.

“It’s very comforting to know that we have those people that we can call for help,” Anthony said, “that we have so many agencies now that we can go to.”

Anthony and the rest of the family aren’t sure what the future holds for their little girl, but they say it is brighter because of United Way.

“Taylor is our special little one. She is the most loving child. She is a very happy child, but she still has many doctors’ appointments ahead and we will continue to turn to United Way for help. I know it will be there through the giving of others,” Anthony said.