Heather Neal’s 15-year-old son, Tyler Guidry, lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Unfortunately, a Duchenne diagnosis and the obstacles it brings are not all that Heather and her family have had to endure. In 2021, Hurricane Ida struck many parts of Louisiana, including the area where Heather’s family lives. The storm damaged Heather’s home, where she had done her best to properly equip the areas her son needs to live. With Tyler and three younger children, Heather faced adversity head on.
Tyler Guidry is a 9th grader in high school using his power wheelchair to get around. The school he attends was damaged in Hurricane Ida, so he often merges with a neighboring school for every day classes. Tyler has found joy in attending school and watching YouTube or Netflix, but almost everything else has been difficult for him to experience due to limited transportation capabilities.
After Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana, Tyler lived at a family friend’s house for 70 days. There was no ramp or space to use his power wheelchair, and doing small things such as taking a shower was near impossible. Heather says that she struggled with feeling alone and fearing that she was failing Tyler for many years with Duchenne.
Heather came across Jett Foundation through other groups in the muscular dystrophy community. After reading about families that have received assistance, Heather realized the Jett Giving Fund was placed in her life at just the right time.
The Accessible Vehicle Fund helps families obtain safe, accessible transportation; families raise half or more of the funds needed for their vehicle and Jett Foundation covers the remaining costs. The Emergency Fund provides grants to families facing unexpected, emergency situations.
On March 4, 2022, Heather finally woke up to efficient transportation means for Tyler. “Prior to Jett Foundation making sure we received an accessible van, Tyler’s grandmother and I struggled to place him in a lift for a truck or had to transport him in undesirable ways,” says Heather. “When I read our acceptance email, I couldn’t help but cry as it didn’t feel real. I applied to the Jett Giving Fund because I never wanted to give up, and I feel so blessed to receive Jett Foundation’s support.”
The first family outing since receiving the accessible van was the famous Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. “Our friends were ecstatic that Tyler was able to go to the parade! My phone is already filled with the first thing we were all able to do together. The van has brought my family back together,” says Heather.
“Tyler’s Duchenne has taught me to really cherish the small things in life because we must live every day with purpose. I love that Tyler can experience traditional teenager things. He is definitely a normal 16-year-old in a lot of ways,” says Heather.
Heather has strong remarks for others facing adversity: “I’d like to tell other Duchenne families that no matter the circumstances, please don’t give up. I was so close to losing hope many times, but I realize now that it was all in God’s plan to connect me with Jett Foundation. There are people out there on your side and willing to provide major help for your family, such as Jett Foundation did for me.”
Established in 2017, Jett Giving Fund has helped transform the lives of countless families across the country with over $2.5 million worth of accessible equipment and emergency assistance thanks to the generous support of individual donors, local communities, and major sponsors including Cure Dale’s Duchenne, The Flatley Foundation, and the Killian Family.
You can help us to support more families through the two branches of Jett Giving Fund: the Accessible Vehicle Fund and the Emergency Fund. Donate today or learn more about becoming a sponsor by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.