Celebrate United Ability Day with Leah and her family on July 17


NaTasha Garrett and her daughter Leah wearing this year’s United Ability Day t-shirt. Photo courtesy of NaTasha Garrett

On NaTasha Garrett’s worst days, when she needs strength, she looks at her daughter Leah, who cannot speak or crawl, and has a genetic disorder so rare there isn’t a name for it.  

On those difficult days, it never fails. Leah will give her mom that sideways look and…giggle. 

“I’m like, OK. If she can find joy, I can too,” NaTasha told us

United Ability Day

This summer on July 17, you can bring joy to NaTasha, Leah, and over 5,700 unique individuals and their families when you celebrate United Ability Day with them by purchasing and wearing a custom-designed t-shirt on that special day.

Let us tell you why it matters.

NaTasha and Leah’s Story

NaTasha Garrett and her daughter Leah Photo courtesy of NaTasha Garrett

NaTasha is no stranger to United Ability.

Her first job in education was more than fourteen years ago, teaching at United Ability’s Hand in Hand. For the past decade, she has worked at the Harris Early Learning Center in downtown Birmingham near the Alabama Power headquarters and in the Birmingham Civil Rights District.

In 2017, NaTasha gave birth to Leah, her third child—all daughters.

Early on, NaTasha noticed Leah was not reaching the usual child development milestones. When she was four months old, Leah wasn’t holding her head up. She shivered a lot.

Her pediatrician was perplexed. At five months, NaTasha, who sensed something was wrong, performed evaluations she had used at Hand in Hand. She knew something had to be done, so they went to Children’s of Alabama for a myriad of tests.

Diagnoses at Children’s

2019 United Ability t-shirt. Photo courtesy of NaTasha Garrett

After a long series of tests, X-Rays, and examinations when the doctor came to see NaTasha,  she looked like she had seen a ghost. Leah was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that doesn’t have a name. 

Her list of ailments included chromosome 16p 12.2 microdelection, schizencephaly, porencephalic cysts, global developmental delay, epilepsy,  cortical visual impairment, and asthma. The shivering? Daily seizures. 

Bubble of Fun and Super Sweet

NaTasha Garrett’s family (she is on the right). Left to right Shecoria Wright, Leah Mitchell and Kaya King. Photo courtesy of NaTasha Garrett

Today, despite being nearly three years old, Leah’s motor abilities are that of a 3-month-old infant.  She can’t hold her head up independently, the seizures continue and she needs a feeding tube to eat.

She is a bubble of fun and super sweet.

“The minute she was discharged from Children’s, I knew she was going to be at United Ability’s Hand in Hand,” said NaTasha.  “I went right back where I started with teaching and that was Hand in Hand.”

United Ability is once again NaTasha’s family, this time not as a teacher but as a parent. The place is so familiar to her. In fact, many of the teachers she worked with in the past are still there.

Most importantly, Leah loves United Ability.

“She loves music big time. I love the fact that she has music therapy at Hand in Hand. Watching her hear music lights up her world. She is happy. She is beyond happy. Just because she has physical limitations doesn’t mean she can’t feel different things around her,” added NaTasha.

United Ability is Family—Celebrate on July 17

NaTasha Garrett’s family . Left to right Shecoria Wright, Leah Mitchell, NaTasha Garrett and Kaya King. Photo courtesy of NaTasha Garrett

The upcoming United Ability Day on July 17th means a great deal to NaTasha and Leah. Purchasing and wearing the shirt supports their entire United Ability family. 

NaTasha summed up her feelings best:

“United Ability is family to me.  They were years ago, but they are truly, truly family now.  I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.”

“Leah brightens up our lives. All people with disabilities brighten up our lives. They have a voice.  They have a heart. They have hope. They may not be able to tell you. But they have it. They show they have a lot to give.”

United Ability Day and each and every day is a joyous day.

Be a Part of Something Special

Purchase your United Ability Day shirt today.  Better yet, organize a team of co-workers, friends, and family to buy shirts by emailing David Barry at dbarry@unitedability.org. Tell him Bham Now sent you.

Sponsored by:

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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