Charlie and Lawanda Alfred
When Lawanda Alfred’s son, Charlie, was diagnosed with Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome (VCFS), she was determined to travel anywhere from their home in South Fulton, Tennessee to get him the best medical treatment available. In 2008, she and Charlie attended a VCFS Conference in Detroit, where they met Dr. Robert Shprintzen of the VCFS International Center in Syracuse, NY. At the time, Charlie was too young for surgery, but Dr. Shprintzen suggested a future evaluation and possible surgery.
In May of 2010, Lawanda and Charlie travelled 1,400 miles to Syracuse for what was originally supposed to be a 4-day visit. They ended up staying 3 weeks, as Dr. Craig Tatum performed surgery on Charlie, removing his adenoids and tonsils. Lawanda and Charlie returned to Syracuse for 18 days in September of the same year for more surgery.
For both trips, the Alfred’s stayed at the CNY Ronald McDonald House. Lawanda had some idea of what to expect, as she had stayed at a Ronald McDonald House in Nashville, TN for 4 ½ months when Charlie was an infant. For their two most recent stays at the CNY Ronald McDonald House, she says she was most pleased that Charlie was given the opportunity to be a child. He was often seen selecting a movie from the video library, playing in the playroom, helping shred papers in the office, and interacting with other guests, volunteers and staff members in the kitchen. Charlie has become especially interested in collecting pop tabs for the CNY Ronald McDonald House, and now approaches anyone he sees with a soda can (whether he knows them or not) and asks, “Tab off?”
Charlie’s surgeries went well, and combined with his upcoming speech therapy, he will be able to speak with a full vocabulary within a year. Lawanda is extremely grateful for the impact Dr. Shprintzen, Dr. Tatum, the VCFS International Center, and the CNY Ronald McDonald House have had on her family. She says, “This experience will make a total difference in the quality of Charlie’s life.”