SPRING, TX (KTRK) --A Spring family is working to make life a little easier for 9-year-old Jacah Jefferson after he was diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome.
He spent weeks at Texas Children's Hospital as an infant. Nine years later, his family and the rest of Team Jacah from Houston, to Dallas, to Baton Rouge are raising money to buy a wheelchair accessible van to make his life just a little bit easier and safer.
"We're not any blood relation," Stacy Williams said. "I'm his step-grandmother in literal terms. But he is my child."
Williams has raised him as such since he was seven months old. Before she was awarded custody of Jefferson, he was abused by a family friend. She says the abuse started around two months old and continued until five months. That's when doctors at Texas Children's Hospital diagnosed him with Shaken Baby Syndrome.
"So about a quarter of the kids will die from the injuries. Basically a blunt injury to the head. Of those that survive, somewhere around 60-70 percent, over half, will have lifelong complications," Dr. Christopher Greeley with Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine said.
"He has cerebral palsy. He's unable to sit up by himself, walk, he's non-verbal. He has seizure disorder, visual impairments," Williams said.
He's broken each leg during seizures. The first time was in 2011 while he was on the school bus. The second time was in 2012 while in the family vehicle. Williams says those injuries happened because he didn't have space to stretch out during the seizures.
To keep that from happening again, Williams, her husband and their friends have been raising money for a wheelchair accessible van.
"It would mean so much to us. It would allow Jacah to have the space that he needs. It will allow my back a rest because we're picking him up, putting him in a car seat, and then we're picking up the actual wheelchair and placing it in a vehicle," she said.
They've already gone to see the van they want, and took pictures of Jacah in what would be his new spot.
But the money they're raising isn't just for them. The family plans to use any extra to help other families of abused and disabled children, and to continue raising money to do so even after they're rolling.
"Maybe we can help them financially. But no child should have to suffer behind the hands of an adult that didn't give them a chance to have a life," Williams explained.
Dr. Greeley with Texas Children's Hospital says there are plenty of people who need that help -- but awareness is also needed.
"Many of the people who later admit to have done that show profound regret, and it's sort of tragic situation. So prevention is awareness of the dangers of shaking a young baby," he said.
Stacy Williams says it's important for people to know that shaking a baby can leave children with lifelong disabilities just like Jacah. She hopes this van will help make his a little more manageable.
"Equipment, we're going to always need. Space we're going to always need. I just want to give him the life I promised I would give him," she added.
The van they're looking at costs about $56,000. They've had fish fries, softball and bowling tournaments, walks and even a black tie dinner over the weekend to raise the money but there's a long way to go.
Below are links to ways you can help the family make Life After Shaken Baby Syndrome a little better for Jacah: