When Suzanna Pangburn’s son Lincoln was born, she found herself at a crossroads.
“Having a special needs child is very unexpected and unsettling. In retrospect, it can make you feel some pretty ugly feelings. Why me? What can I do? No one understands. What is wrong? Is this temporary or forever? Will my child drive a car? Live independently?”
Those questions were what led the family to Development Services Center in Champaign. The Pangburns are DSC’s 2014 “Tree of Hope” Spokesfamily, the face of the organization’s annual charitable campaign.
Suzanna is a Tuscola native who now lives in Champaign with her engineer husband, Steve, and their two adorable children Lincoln (almost 4) and Gwen (2). She is a Student of Echocardiography and a CU Autism board member. Her hobbies include live music, knitting, drawing, dreaming about my children’s future, hiking, camping, gardening, reading medical research, and traveling with her family.
Lincoln has multiple medical challenged including: a congenital heart disease, chromosomal abnormalities and Dandy-Walker Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes developmental delay. “His first years of life were filled with tears, vomit, pediatric specialists, procedures, questions, therapists, diagnostic tests and worry….so much worry,” she writes. “With several diagnoses and the much-needed support from friends, family and Lincoln’s therapists, I can finally get back to dreaming about my childrens’ future instead of worrying.”
“Parenthood is a huge turning point in anyone’s life, but it shaped my life and my perspective in ways I could have never imagined. As a mother of a medically complex child, I have found so much more appreciation for everything that surrounds me. This must be what it is like to have a life-threatening trauma or illness; I feels like my senses are heightened and my thirst for knowledge is replenished. I have a purpose greater than any…being Mom.”
See why we think Suzanna Pangburn is a Chambana Mom to Know.
Q: What was your family’s reaction to being asked to be the DSC Tree of Hope ambassadors this year?
We were so honored when we were asked to be the 2014 Tree of Hope Spokesfamily. Developmental Services Center is such an amazing organization that has done so much for my family, we are delighted to give back. During the next few weeks and months we will have the privilege to speak about our experience with DSC and spread the word about improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities. Our family is featured in a variety of media: radio (97.5FM, 1400AM), newspapers, TV (WCIA Morning Show, ciLiving) and four billboards in Champaign! We are proud to help reach the fundraising goal of $140,000.
Q: What does DSC mean to your family?
Developmental Services Center helped my husband and I find direction on our new journey as special needs parents. They have provided therapy services for our son, therapeutic equipment for our home and a sense of belonging and understanding with a new group of peers who are also faced with challenges.
Q: Your young family has faced more than its fair share of health-related challenges. What advice would you give parents who are just starting down the journey you started almost four years ago?
Early Intervention – get a FREE developmental evaluation offered by the State of Illinois if you suspect that your child might be developmentally delayed or not meeting milestones. Use the “wait and see approach” responsibly. Addionally, use your resources to find support through local groups, Facebook groups to share concerns, ideas and questions with families like yours.
Q: How would you assess the opportunities available in C-U for to children with special needs?
Champaign-Urbana has wonderful resources and opportunities for children and adults with special needs. Therapeutic Horse riding (Healing Horse Stables), development playgroups, music therapy, job coaching, group homes and much more. The Champaign Park District and The Stephens Family YMCA have almost anything you can dream of. If they don’t already offer an all-ability activity, Stacie Young, (Larkin’s Place Program Director at Stephens Family YMCA) will listen to your idea for a class or group and find the peers and instructors necessary to make it happen. So dream big! In a town this size, with a youthful, progressive-thinking community, you can create the programs you need.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in 2015?
In 2015, am looking forward to warmer weather (but not too warm!) continuing my education, starting a new career in Echocardiography, planting my garden, traveling and making memories with my family.
Q: What is your family’s favorite Champaign-Urbana area event or place?
Too many favorites, but here are a few:
– the Urbana Farmer’s Market and all the smells, music and people
– the natural Playscape at Homer Lake
– Stephen’s Family YMCA/Larkin’s Place
– ALL THE OUTDOOR CONCERTS including but not limited to the Allerton Park Summer Concert Series
Q: How would your best friend describe you in three words?
My classmates describe me as patient, inquisitive and proactive.
DSC Tree of Hope Director of Development, Janice McAteer calls me “dynamic”.
My daughter tells me “you’re a beauty” and “you are my heart”
Q: Tell me something most people don’t know about you.
I LOVE CARROT JUICE!
I regularly practice figure drawing (nudes).
Suzanna Pangburn was nominated to be a Chambana mom to know. Nominate a mom or dad today — it’s easy!