By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Right now, 7-year-old Joe Lang of Delano is in a wheelchair, but he and his family are not giving up on the possibility that he might walk again someday.
A benefit for Joe is set for Saturday, Oct. 10 at the Delano Legion. Dinner will be served from 4 to 9 p.m. There will also be live music, face painting, and a silent auction.
“We have a lot of fantastic silent auction items, including some great sports memorabilia, a stainless steel grill, Wii systems, handmade gifts, jewelry, tickets to sporting events and entertainment, and many other unique items,” said Joe’s mother, Lori.
Proceeds from the benefit will go toward medical expenses, home modifications, and a special therapy bike for Joe.
In January 2009, doctors discovered a mass putting pressure on Joe’s spinal cord. Because of this rare birth defect known as a spinal cord Areteriovenous Malformation (AVM), Joe no longer has the use of his legs. He and his family continue to remain optimistic, however.
“Joe is getting so much stronger on his upper body strength,” Lori commented. “We still see changes in Joe, which is a good thing.”
The Lang family hopes that some of the money from the benefit can be used to help purchase a $15,000 functional electrical stimulation (FES) bike for Joe.
The FES is a rehabilitative technique that uses electrical current to stimulate nerves, which evokes muscle contractions. With the FES bike, Joe’s legs would be able to pedal the bike, even though he can’t move them on his own.
“It will help keep his muscles strong,” Lori explained.
Another type of rehabilitation that has been helpful for Joe is robotic-assisted walking therapy, using a Lokomat at Chicago Shriners Hospital. He went there for two weeks this summer, and will be going back for a month to continue with the therapy.
“My husband, Tony, and I would change places with him in a heartbeat, but we can’t, so we remain positive and strong for Joe,” Lori said.
Joe started second grade at Delano Elementary School this fall, and everything is going well.
“I asked him if he was nervous about school. and Joe’s response was, ‘Why would I be nervous, Mom?’” Lori said. “That explains Joe. He wants to go to school just like any typical 7 year old. He wants to hang out with his friends.”
Despite being in a wheelchair, Joe stays as active as possible. This summer, he joined a wheelchair baseball team called the Rolling Twins.
“He did an awesome job,” Lori said. “I think it built confidence in Joe that he is still able to play baseball, just in a different way. He said the best part of baseball was being with kids just like him, in wheelchairs.”
Joe also enjoys riding a hand cycle bike that was donated by the Loretto Lions.
“The bike has been one of the best things for Joe,” Lori said. One day, Joe and his father biked eight miles.
“Tony was on his Roller Blades to help up the big hills, but for the most part, Joe could do it himself,” Lori said.
This winter, Joe hopes to try wheelchair basketball and sled hockey.
“Joe continues to amaze everyone,” Lori commented. “He is a 7-year-old boy who has to deal with so much. He is our inspiration and we will continue to keep his body and legs strong for the future.”
Additional silent auction items for Joe’s benefit are still very much appreciated. For more information about the benefit, or to donate an item, contact Cherie Kuechle at (763) 213-7685, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Lisa Lang at email@example.com.
“Right now, we just take one day at a time,” Lori said. “We’re not giving up.”