boy sits cross-legged in a wagon

Javier Franco, age 2

Photograph by Heather Fowler (2021)

Javi Franco had a difficult start in life, but he is now a thriving and happy little boy. Javi spent his first 81 days in the NICU. He was born with Down syndrome and a long-gap esophageal atresia. During his first nine months at home, Javi required multiple procedures and was hospitalized several times. On his first birthday, his family took a Med-Flight to Boston Children’s Hospital where he had a month-long stay and his third major surgery. Following this trip, everything changed. Javi grew strong, doing things his parents never imagined he would be able to do.

Today, he loves to play peek-a-boo and read books. He blows kisses and waves to anyone he meets and has recently started giving a thumbs-up and fist-bumps. Javi’s mom, Shelli, says he also has the best giggles!
“Javi reminds me that wonderful things can happen in their own time” says Shelli. “His happiness is infectious. I am inspired to celebrate the good when it comes, no matter when or how it comes. We can’t imagine our lives without this amazing, resilient, happy child.”

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Family Connection of South Carolina provides services and resources to families who have a child with a disability or specialized healthcare need. Since 1990 we have served more than 100,000 families and today our services are needed more than ever. We focus on parent-to-parent support, guidance with navigating the complex healthcare system, and assistance with school meetings and special education plans.

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