Rochester, N.Y. — For Jon and Yvonne Clanton of Zephyrhills, FL, love and prayer is the glue that binds their family together.
Jon and Yvonne have a total of five children, four of whom are special needs children and three of them are adopted.
In August, the couple brought their children to Rochester because two of them needed treatment at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The family says they have come to love and trust Golisano. They’ve been to Rochester at least five times for their children’s treatments and each time they’ve stayed at the Ronald McDonald House.
During their trip in August, Jon was walking with his daughter, 8-year-old Selah and son, 8-year-old Sam in a stroller along the Erie Canal behind the Ronald McDonald House. However, the stroller got away from him and went into the canal.
Jon jumped into the water trying to hold his children above the surface. Three U of R medical students came to the rescue after they jumped in to save the children. They grabbed the children and performed CPR until medics got to the scene.
“They were willing to jump into an old, polluted canal and come to a man on a limb, holding a stroller,” says Jon. “Without hesitation, they swam to me and rescued my children. If they hadn't we wouldn’t be here talking about what we're going to do with our children.”
Sam suffered minor injuries but Selah’s injuries were grave. The Clantons say her heart had stopped for 30 minutes. Since the accident, she has had very little activity to her brain.
“We definitely miss her and [her siblings] miss her,” says Yvonne. “We’re coming to terms that life is going to be different, but it's still going to be our life and we're still going to go on. We're going to make things as good for her has possible.”
Selah is able to breath on her own thanks to a tracheostomy, a surgical procedure which creates a hole in the windpipe.
Despite Selah’s severe nervous system injuries, the Clantons say they never worried about making a difficult decision. They plan to give Seleh the best life they can.
“We just know that God allowed her to live and we're going to cultivate the life that's in her to whatever is the fullest degree that's possible for her,” says Yvonne.
Yvonne says her family may be able to go back to Florida with Selah next month. However, Yvonne says she gets nervous thinking about it. She says her family feels comforted at the Ronald McDonald House and that the medical care at U of R is unlike anything she can get back home.
“We kind of know what lies ahead, but that's a little bit scary,” she says. “We’re in a rural area in Florida and we don't have the resources that New York has.”
However, the Clantons can be comforted by at least one thought. When they get back home, they will move into a bigger home. Jon is a pastor at a local church and lives in a parsonage. Community members in Tampa and Zephyrhills have partnered up to build the family a bigger home that will help accommodate Selah’s new medical needs. The family is thrilled and grateful.
“Just to think that people were thinking about us and concerned… Wow,” says Yvonne. “That's really something. That's amazing.”
Despite the challenges that lie ahead, the Clantons know they will be able to go through it together.
“Our family has to stay together through thick and thin. That's what love’s about.”