of the month
By Rich Petersen
Ulises Saúl Guerrero Velázquez
What a great name, eh? This is “almost” 9-year old Ulises Saúl Guerrero Velázquez. Ulises lives in Ixtlahuacán with his parents and three siblings. Mom, María Guadalupe, is a housewife and also does sewing and alterations. Dad, Saúl, works on the assembly line of one of the factories in the El Salto area.
I wrote about Ulises several months ago during our summer hiatus, but this time he was able to attend our monthly meeting and his progress has been so remarkable that I thought an update was in order. In the photo Ulises is on the left and accompanied by his little brother Gael and his mom.
Ulises was born with right hemiparesis; in other words, his right side is weaker than his left. While there are many causes of this disorder ranging from a brain injury, head injury, cerebral palsy, or meningitis, in Ulises’s case it is thought he suffered a small stroke during birth. His parents became aware of his condition at around age two and began seeing an orthopedic specialist at the Hospital Civil in Guadalajara. At first physical therapy proved useful, but as the boy grew he required further assistance with a right leg brace, special orthopedic shoes, and then a brace on his right forearm to augment his strength there.
All the while he continued his therapy at a branch of Teletón, the national children’s rehabilitation center, in Guadalajara. Two years ago the doctors at Teletón tried a new treatment on Ulises-- the injection of Botox in the muscles of his right arm, and then the following year in his right leg. This new use of the anti-wrinkle agent Botox has been used with several of the children in our Program to relax the tense taut muscles that accompany paralysis.
In the photo you can see that Ulises’s right hand is a bit crooked. He is not able to grasp objects very firmly yet, but with his continued therapy and the arm brace, he is making great progress. In addition to his regular orthopedic shoes, Ulises is also now using special orthopedic tennis shoes so he can participate in physical education at school because his right leg is now relaxed enough for him to run and play soccer.
Niños Incapacitados has paid for his therapy sessions, the transportation to and from his appointments, his orthopedic shoes and brace, plus one-half of the Botox injection. (Teletón pays the other half.)
Ulises is a very good student and now in the third grade. He is quite good at drawing cars and likes to dance and sing. When asked what he would like to be when he grows up, his prompt answer is “a teacher.” His winning smile and outgoing personality are wonderful to see.
If you would like to learn more about Niños Incapacitados and what we do—and if you would like to meet one of the children in the Program—please attend our regular monthly meetings at 10:00 in one of the conference rooms at the Hotel Real de Chapala in La Floresta. The May meeting on the 12th will be the last until September as so many of our members are away for the summer. Nonetheless, our work in helping families pay for medical expenses continues no matter what the season.