WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) - An Eastern Carolina couple went from having a healthy pregnancy and being beyond excited for the birth of their first child, to being terrified and unsure of just how much time they were going to have with their son.
Now WITN's September Mom of the Month says she wouldn't change a thing and she's working to make this world a better place for kids with special needs.
Clayton Woolard, of Washington, is a beautiful 10-year-old boy who loves books, puzzles, his iPad, and especially camping.
"He loves camping, we go camping in the back yard any time we get a chance," says his father, Neil Woolard, Jr.
Clayton is also a miracle.
"We were told he wouldn't live to be a year old and here he is 10," Neil says. "Every day is a blessing."
Clayton was born with polycycstic kidney disease, where clusters of cysts develop on the kidneys causing them to lose function over time. Eventually he will have to have a kidney transplant.
Specialists in Virginia also treat him for Bardet-Biedl Syndrome, which is a very rare condition.
"He had extra digits on his hands and feet that were removed, vision loss, learning delays, obesity," explains Crystal Woolard, Clayton's mom. "Their brain does not register that they are full. So he's constantly hungry even though he's just eaten."
Clayton can no longer see at night and eventually he will lose his vision all together. So his parents, who were high school sweethearts, are making sure he sees as much as he can while he can.
"I wouldn't change anything, because he's taught us so much," Crystal tells WITN. "He's a stop and smell the flowers kind of guy. He slowed us down. He made us see that the world is a beautiful place and there's so much to take in and appreciate."
From the beach to the mountains, and plenty of camping, they're grateful for each day they were told they'd never have.
Now Crystal wants to change how other people see. "For Clayton and for another other kids with special needs, I just want it to be a better place, a better world."
Clayton is part of ACCEPT & ExCEL in Washington, where exceptional children get the chance to be regular kids; play t-ball, go swimming, go down a big slide.
Parents used to pay out of pocket for those activities, but Crystal had another idea.
"I was like, there's got to be something we can do to get the community involved to educate the community about our children," she says.
Five years ago she began putting together Prom Part 2.
"You don't have to wear prom dresses," explains our Mom of the Month. "It's just a fun night for adults to come out and raise money for our kids. We have a slide show to show what we do with them each month."
Not only raising money for fun nights and t-ball, but this mom's mission is to show these kids' abilities.
"They're people too," Crystal says. "They love people, they have feelings, and we always say, they're not weird or strange, they want to be accepted just like everyone else."
Crystal now says she's found her calling. "I love helping other people, especially when it helps a child."
"I mean I don't know how she does it sometimes, she's the strongest person I know," Neil says.
And when you ask Clayton's opinion, he agrees that he has the best mom in the world.
This year's Prom Part 2 is October 7th at the Washington Civic Center from 7-11 p.m. Call 945-5627 or 252-623-9516 for tickets.
WITN's Mom of the Month is announced every third Monday of each month on WITN News at 5 p.m.
They are awarded a $100 gift card and free oil changes for a year from Johnny's Tire Sales and Service in Greenville.
You can email your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org