By: Peggy Ackfeld, grandma of Bentley
My name is Peggy Ackfeld and my husband Skip and I have been residents of Stone County for over 30 years. We have also been business owners in this area for 30 years. We have three children who graduated from Reeds Spring, 3 grandchildren who graduated and 4 more who are presently attending Reeds Spring.
Four years ago our life changed.
Number eleven grandchild was on the way. Because of issues in our daughter’s previous pregnancy, the doctors suggested testing. Our daughter Mindy and her husband Jason were given news that was life changing…their new son would be born with Trisomy 21, better known as Down Syndrome.
There was no way to handle this information but for all of us to leave whatever we were doing and come together as a family.
Around our dining room table many emotions surfaced, but we all knew our lives would never be the same–especially for Jason and Mindy and their son Jayce. Mindy’s biggest hurt was that Jayce, then 4 years old, would forever have a brother that would depend on him. This was overwhelming to her.
Mindy went to social media for help. There’s no doubt that everyone in Stone County knows someone who helped pray baby Bentley (a name chosen because “Ben” would be easy to spell) into life.
His life started with Down Syndrome, tetralogy of fallot, a condition of the heart, and Hirshsprung’s disease. He was given a colostomy at the age of 1 month, and also had open heart surgery. He remained at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for the first 3 months of his life. All this time, Stone County was kept in constant touch, and prayers and love flowed from this community.
Three months ago it came to our attention that there was going to be an issue on this November 8th Ballot. This issue was going to be for the formation of a Developmental Disability Board. With the forming of this board we would be able to access tax dollars—roughly $19.00 per average homeowner. This money was to be used for employment programs, transportation, therapy services, a day program, respite care, children’s services and housing–services that were already offered by all the surround communities, but not Stone County.
Now let me tell you about the most AMAZING COMMUNITY of people you will ever know. This amazing group of people had worked hard to get the Stone County Commissioners to allow this on the ballot November 8th.
This group of parents and community members has worked tirelessly to make future for the children of Stone County that would allow them to grow and experience the goodness of life that is rightfully theirs.
Bentley is the little guy in the picture on the left, standing with his walker and smiling about his first day of preschool.