When Lucas Hembree was diagnosed with Sanfilippo Syndrome as an infant, his parents learned the neurodegenerative genetic disease had no cure. According to the website www.sanfilippo.org.au, it causes a child to lack an enzyme that would break down and recycle a large sugar molecule. This affects mostly the brain; this is often called “childhood dementia.” It eventually leads the child to experience hyperactivity, restless sleep, loss of speech, cardiac problems, seizures and loss of movement.
The life expectancy is 10 to 15 years of age, according to information provided on his Facebook page, “Lucas Hembree ‘Prayers for Lucas.’ ”
Born March 2, 2007, Lucas, who has been in hospice care since this past summer, will turn 13 years old this year. In celebration of his son so close to reaching this teenage milestone — Lucas’ father, Chester Hembree, shared a post on Facebook on Sunday afternoon (Feb. 16, 2020) with a request.
“This is a day that we thought we would never see, as the doctors originally didn’t believe he would live to be 10 years old … We are asking if everyone would help to make this birthday special for (Lucas) by way of a birthday card campaign,” Chester wrote.
I have followed Lucas’ story for many years. I learned of his story when his former service dog, Juno, a Belgian Malinois, was nominated for the 2012 American Humane Hero Dog Awards in the service dog category. (Juno just passed away in December.) I continue to pray for Lucas and his family and hope for good things for them.
Help make Lucas’ 13th birthday a happy and memorable one for him and his family! You can mail birthday cards to Lucas in care of 1454 Mimosa Drive, Louisville, TN 37777. To learn more about Lucas’ story, visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PrayingforLucas/
The mom of a dancing teen and a tween who enjoys scouting and hockey, Katie Campomizzi-Clews is a copy editor at The Republican-Herald. She began her career at The RH as a staff writer following graduation from Lycoming College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication with a minor in psychology. She shares her experiences of balancing work and parenting and takes a look at issues, events and trends concerning parents and children.