Like so many parents, John Thomas of Weatherford loves to talk about his son. He only wishes Joseph was still there to join the conversation.
Joseph died in 2007 from a condition known as double dominant, inheriting a pair of dwarfism genes. While illness often results in miscarriage, Joseph was given six years of life.
But while Joseph is physically gone, his memory remains strong thanks to the work of the Joseph Thomas Foundation started by Thomas immediately after the death of his son.
The non-profit association helps families of children with special needs.
“I am convinced that instead of standing up and complaining, we should step up and help find a solution,” Thomas said. âToo many people today would rather be heard than seen helping. “
This is certainly not the case with JTF, which offers two programs.
The grant program provides financial assistance to families of children with special needs to purchase equipment or supplies that are not fully funded by insurance. This program has an application process.
The Closet program is their newest program and it provides lightly used medical equipment and new medical supplies to anyone in need. This program does not have an app, but does have a support request process.
âThese items are usually donated to us by other families with special needs who wish to help others,â Thomas said.
Thomas highlighted the need for help from the JTF and others like it at this time when healthcare can be difficult for some to come by.
âMedicaid is an incredible insurance option for children with disabilities. However, they are insufficient in many areas. For example, Medicaid only pays for one wheelchair every five years. So, if a child needs a wheelchair at the age of 3, that child cannot get another wheelchair before the age of 8. So what happens when the child gets too big for their chair? ” he said. âThe family has to pay for an extra chair out of pocket, and that’s where the JTF can step in and help with these financial burdens. “
Thomas added that the JTF can also fill the void while waiting for insurance, or when there is not enough allowance for an item covered or not covered by insurance.
The Closet Program has shipped supplies and equipment to seven different countries and about 20 states this year alone, Thomas said.
âBecause our nearest program has no location restrictions, we are able to serve anyone. Our grant program currently serves 101 counties in Texas, âhe said.
The main office of the JTF is in Abilene, which Thomas noted is centrally located. There are medical offices in Lubbock, Weatherford, Abilene and Rockwall.
Over the past 14 years, the JTF has helped around 230 families through its grants program, Thomas said. He added that since the addition of the Closet program in January 2021, the foundation has served just over 500 families around the world.
Thomas noted that the Lubbock Closet served the family of a 6-year-old girl when private insurance refused life support formula and equipment. FOI Closet provided a feeding pump, IV rod, and supplies of feeding and formula bags for six months.
âThese items totaled over $ 680 per month for his parents,â he said. “By providing six months of support – worth over $ 4,500 – the JTF has significantly eased the financial burden on her family.”
The community is committed to the cause
Like many non-profit organizations, the JTF benefits from the help of the community. They also receive funds from local, state, and national grants, individual sponsorships, and their own Hands of Hope campaign. In this campaign, people can donate on a monthly schedule with the amount of their choice.
âWe rely a lot on the generosity of our communities. What we find is that most families just don’t know about the hardships our families have, and once they do, they are happy to help. Education is the key, âThomas said.
They also host several fundraisers, including the popular annual triathlon in Abilene and the biathlon in Weatherford. This is the 15th year for triathlon and the fifth year for biathlon.
The Weatherford event is scheduled for November 13, while the next Abilene event will take place on February 12.
These are events where families with special needs can come and enjoy the day with other families with special needs. Whether the child has unique challenges or different abilities than typical children, they can feel included, and parents can fraternize with others who share some of the same difficulties in raising a child with special needs.
The most recent JTF fundraiser is scheduled for Oct. 16 at Heritage Park in Weatherford, Thomas said.
âWe are very excited about the first JTF Fest this year. With the help of Parker County United and the City of Weatherford, we hope to create a family event for everyone to enjoy, âhe said. âWe will have live music, a Kidzone, a BBQ and a cornhole tournament. ”
For assistance, call the JTF office at 325-704-1129 or visit their Facebook page. You can also reach them by visiting their website www.josephthomasfoundation.org and clicking on the âContactâ tab.