Making Brain Injury Nothing More Than a Bad Memory
Making Brain Injury Nothing More Than a Bad Memory
Holton's Heroes serves the community at large by connecting children who have suffered a life-threatening, post-birth brain injury with therapeutic tools and devices, enriching activities, educational information and resources for them and their loved ones.
As Holton's parents struggled to claw their way through the quagmire that is the U.S. insurance system, they were constantly being stonewalled to get the help their son desperately needed due to out-of-touch policies, hard-to-reach insurance agents and an unfortunate amount of unmotivated government workers.
In creating Holton's Heroes, Eric and Angela Weingrad aim to help children and their families get the tools they need to improve their overall physical and emotional development in addition to their quality of life. Holton's Heroes strives to be a constant reminder to families dealing with a brain injury that they are not alone in this fight. It is this premise that drives our mission.
When tragedy struck our family there was nothing anyone could do or say to make us feel better. The only thing that mattered was our son’s complete and ultimate recovery.
As days went by I began a Facebook page called The Incredible Holt – Road to Recovery. I vented, screamed and cried online but mostly, I documented every painful moment of this gut-wrenching experience. I didn’t know why I felt so compelled to let everyone in on my family’s darkest days, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I made during those first few weeks.
It was there that an eclectic gathering of family, friends and mostly strangers began to lift us up. The more I wrote, the more people seemed to care. In our misery we would turn to this special community to try to make sense of what seemed eternally senseless. People sent us food, donated money and delivered countless messages of love and compassion. In a sea of misfortune we found what we needed most – hope.
What happened to our son will never make sense, but what transpired in this community inspired us and catapulted us forward in life. What seemed unbearable became manageable; what appeared like a curse became good fortune; and a world that once felt heartless was suddenly full of love. Now it is our turn to give back to that same community.
We’ve set up Holton’s Heroes to help families turn the corner when their child suffers a life-altering brain injury. Through information, resources and tangible therapy tools our mission is to supply practical assistance to families in need by any means necessary.
We will never be able to replace what any child has lost but we can certainly try to make their lives a little easier.
Eric Weingrad, Holton's Father & Founder
Holton Cam Weingrad was born on October 1, 2014. In spite of being born five weeks premature and spending six days in the NICU, Holt came home perfectly healthy to his parents, Eric and Angela, and big sister Stella. For the Weingrads the addition of Holt made their family complete.
It was Friday, December 19, 2014, eleven weeks after the birth of little Holt. Although the Weingrads didn't know it at the time, their lives were about to drastically change forever.
It was around 11:45 in the morning and Angela had just finished breastfeeding her seemingly very thirsty newborn. Little Holt fell asleep in his mommy's arms so she gently handed him over to the family's nanny, who had been watching over their daughter for the previous year and a half. Angela and Eric quietly snuck out to run one final errand before their two-week holiday staycation: they needed to return one of Holton's PJ outfits and buy their nanny some Christmas gifts before she began her two-week paid vacation.
About forty minutes after leaving their perfectly content and well-fed infant in the arms of their once-trusted caretaker, the Weingrads received the worst call imaginable. Holton was being rushed to the hospital because he had stopped breathing. That’s all they were told – and not by the nanny.
When they arrived at the ER they found Holton in pain and suffering seizures from a cracked skull. His eyes were rolled back and he was making strange guttural sounds. It was horrifying. His seizures were so unrelenting, eleven-week-old Holton was placed in a medically induced coma for the next three weeks until the seizures were finally brought under control.
The family spent months in and out of the hospital as Holton had suffered both a traumatic and anoxic brain injury that day. The cause of his injury remains a mystery since the case is still working its way through the court system, but the Weingrads have little doubt that the nanny fabricated her version of events that led to their son's severe head trauma. Of the many different versions of the story she told over time, Holton's doctors determined that none properly explained his severe injuries. At this point, the only truth that matters is – whatever she did – she destroyed this poor boy and his family in mere minutes.
At fourteen months of age Holton has not reached any of the typical milestones such as sitting up, grabbing or crawling. Even tracking an object with his eyes is something he struggles with due to the damage to his visual cortex. Recently, surgeons implanted a feeding tube so Holt can keep his weight up as he struggled with latching and eating properly. Even though doctors were able to stop his seizures initially, they have since returned and occur between three and ten times a day.
Life is hard for Holton and his family but he’s showing improvement. Holt's parents learned that his progress cannot simply be measured against other kids his age as he’s on his own course with the same end goal. Even with all the odds stacked against little Holt his parents are hopeful, proud and most importantly, happy. They will not let their son’s disability define him – or them.
After not breathing for an unknown amount of time, Holton deserves to be praised for his sheer will to live and uncompromisable inner strength – and that’s exactly what the Holton's Heroes charity will do in perpetuity.
Holton's story is just beginning. He's already inspired thousands of people during his short time on this planet. What started as a Facebook page designed to update family and friends about Holt's condition became a movement. People have become connected and invested in his recovery. They have fallen in love with someone who could easily be their son, or nephew or grandchild.
And it is with that attitude and spirit that Holton's Heroes was created. As Holton and his family do their best to overcome their son's brain injury, they want to help other families that are dealing with the same daily struggles. They realize the only reason they are still moving forward today is because of the support and love they've received from thousands of complete strangers.
It's time to pass that on. It's time to be incredible.
If you have a child who suffered a brain injury after birth and is less than 17 years of age—up to 19 if they're still in school—we encourage you to fill out the application below.
Important: In addition to completing the application, we request a 2 – 4 minute video that shows us everything you think we should know about your child, your family, your child's situation and goals. Simply upload the video to YouTube and paste the link in the "Video Submission" field in the application. These do not need to be professionally filmed or edited—a video shot from a phone will work.
We did our best to make the application process as simple as possible. The information you provide will only be used to figure out the most ideal way Holton's Heroes can possibly help. It is not a requirement that your child or family be publicly featured on our site, but we do love to show our donors how their hard-earned money is working!
Please note that not all qualified applicants will receive aid from Holton's Heroes, and the number of persons receiving any type of aid will depend in large part upon the availability of funding for Holton's Heroes charitable and educational programs and activities after its annual budget requirements have been met.
Thank you for your interest in becoming part of the Holton's Heroes family.
We aim to support children who have suffered a life-altering TBI (traumatic brain injury) after birth. The child must be a U.S. citizen and 17-years-old or younger at the time of submission. Ultimately, our goal is to help out the child and all their loved ones, as we understand how difficult it is to run a household when dealing with something as severe as TBI in a child.
Through a carefully selected board of directors that consists of close family, friends and various experts in their respective fields, children and their respective caretakers that have fully satisfied and completed the online application process are considered to receive assistance from the foundation. At our discretion, we might require the help of the child’s treating physician. We reserve the right to deny anyone. Any fraudulent information submitted will result in instant dismissal.
Eligibility varies from case to case but ultimately our mission is to help children with severe developmental delays due to post-birth traumatic and anoxic brain injuries. Our goal is to help every family that is brave enough to reach out but unfortunately we are limited by the amount of funding our charity receives each year. Children that have not been selected are invited to reapply again every new calendar year until selected. Once a child is chosen and receives help from Holton's Heroes a family must wait three (3) years before reapplying.
Every injury, every child, and every family is different. So with that premise at the forefront, our board of directors goes to great lengths to prepare a specific plan of action to help out the child and their family. This is why we request to speak with not only the parents but doctors, therapists and other professionals that deal with the child's day-to-day development.
But to be more specific, we love to gift therapy tools, wheelchairs, ramps, lifts and other tangible items that make life easier and recovery possible. This includes but is not limited to groceries, special travel equipment, enrichment activities, experiences, special furniture, in-home equipment, and so on. Ultimately a board member will learn about the child’s needs and take the family's current situation into consideration to eventually supply the chosen family with needed assistance.
By any means possible. (Well, legally of course!) We accept online donations big and small all year long in addition to applying for public and private grants. We also host annual live events on both coasts like walks, comedy shows, concerts, and auctions to bring public awareness to pediatric TBI while raising funds for our charity.
It takes hundreds of volunteers, donors and sponsors to make Holton's Heroes' vision of helping every child affected by TBI a reality. Thank you to everyone who's helped make this charity a success through your generous donations.
No. We recognize that dealing with TBI is one of the most exhausting, frustrating and confusing battles any parent must face, and for that reason we do not take a family's financial background into consideration. We simply want to help children and their families regardless of how much money is or isn't stashed away in their savings account.
Please be patient as we receive hundreds of applications a year. Our aim is to reply within 45 days but when all else fails, you can reach us by sending us a message using the "Contact Us" box below.