When Cheryl Lashmit was born 63 years ago, her family was told she would not live past infancy. But she did. Then she was told she would never survive past her teenage years. But she did.
Cheryl’s life has been filled with many things others said she could not do, like communicate.
Although Cheryl is unable to speak, she still has a lot to say and a lot of life to live. She lets people know about her love for Jesus, which was inspired by her father who was a pastor. She likes to “tell” people how she loves vampires and thinks Channing Tatum is a cutie.
Cheryl has created a life for herself with ADEC; she lives with her beloved housemates in an ADEC group home and attends ADEC Day Service at Mishawaka. She communicates with her staff and friends through her smiles, her facial expressions and in the slight noises she can make.
At ADEC, individuals are treated with dignity and respect. For Cheryl, this means we respect and value her enough to listen to what she has to say even when she cannot speak. It means that Cheryl’s caregivers go beyond meeting her basic needs – they spend the time to understand that she might want to watch “The Sound of Music” or “Twilight.” At ADEC, every day is filled with greater choices and more possibilities.
Cheryl was told she would only celebrate one or two birthdays at most, so those close to her help her celebrate each year of defying the odds in big ways. Since she is unable to eat solid foods, they also show her the dignity of a birthday celebration focused on Cheryl – not on birthday cake and ice cream.
In August, Cheryl will celebrate another birthday with those who love her. In the past, people have gone to great lengths to ensure her birthday is special. One year, she wanted to spend the day in church, however the building was not accessible. No problem! Cheryl’s brother recruited four burly men to carry her up the stairs so her birthday wish would be granted.
At ADEC, a life filled with dignity means celebrating the little and big days just the way you want. It means taking the time to listen even when someone doesn’t have words.
“Finding ways to celebrate Cheryl is the least we could do after all she has taught us about not taking anything for granted,” said Anna Woods, the manager of Cheryl’s group home. “Her smile is contagious. Her laughter reminds us every day that we can overcome anything that may stand in our way.”
Who knew 63 years ago, Cheryl would defy the odds and live a long life filled with Dignity with ADEC? Because of you, Cheryl has found a home with ADEC and can speak loudly without words — and she knows we will be there to listen.