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Mother Battles Through Illness to Keep Homeschooling Daughters

Families homeschool for a myriad of reasons. Christopher and Lorrie Gray chose homeschooling to keep their eldest daughter safe from the potential danger of a severe dairy allergy that would have kept her mostly isolated in a traditional public school classroom. Their decision to teach at home began with a commitment to their daughter’s wellbeing.

When Lorrie became pregnant with their second daughter, she began to have terrible pain in her joints and was diagnosed with a genetic condition that caused chronic degeneration of connective tissue. Her physical symptoms worsened so that she spent a good deal of time seeing doctors, bedridden, or in a wheelchair. As her younger daughter grew and spent time with her sister and mother, she naturally began to read words at a young age, so Lorrie began teaching them both at her knee and then later, from her bed lying down. Her health challenges made teaching from home a way to spend quality time with her daughters, when she might otherwise have lain in bed, watching them come and go to school each day. Homeschooling provided her with a daily, tangible reason to get up, at least figuratively, and get ready to be with her daughters.

It wasn’t an ideal situation, but we made it work. My husband helped out with the schooling some, but was mostly in charge of all the other things I couldn’t do, like cooking, cleaning, shopping, and playing with the girls. I was also working to finish a degree online from bed.”

Not one to settle, Lorrie and Christopher continued to research options for getting better, and the Lord provided. “Most of my doctors said I was as good as I would ever get. So, I decided to take my health into my own hands and tried some natural methods of healing. To my astonishment and relief, I began to get better little by little with increased exercise, a special diet, and the use of natural wellness products instead of prescription medications. I have two hours of therapy each day, but I haven’t used my wheel chair at all in the last 8 months, and I enjoy a much more normal life.”

But Lorrie’s condition involves special therapy and diet, and there were a number of large bills left from traditional medical treatments. 

Julie McDermott, the Home School Foundation’s California State Ambassador, learned about the Gray family’s financial struggle and admired Lorrie’s tenacious commitment to continue homeschooling while searching for better health. McDermott arranged for an Ambassador Grant from the California State Ambassador Fund to defray some medical costs and provide for hands-on educational materials for the girls.

Ambassador McDermott said, “I am in awe of the Gray family’s perseverance in the face of extreme medical challenges -- first, battling the constant threat of food allergies with their daughter and then years of ongoing therapy for Lorrie’s rare, genetic disorder which affects her connective tissue.”

We homeschool because we know it’s best for our daughter’s health,” shared Lorrie, “but we also homeschool because it’s best for our family. We’re very thankful for people like Julie McDermott and for organizations like the Home School Foundation that care. I am so grateful for this grant and HSF. We were using a curriculum that was less than ideal for our family because it was more affordable, and we really needed something better. This Ambassador Program grant allowed us to get just that.  My kids are loving their new curriculum, and I know that this school year is going to be a great time of learning for them.”

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