Guyton’s public safety department is holding a fundraiser for “one of their own” during the town’s Dec. 6 Christmas parade and festivities.
Sergeant Gary Jarriel’s wife Annie, Debra Scruggs, Ronda Wells and many others will sell their baked goods at the city’s booth from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. to raise money for Guyton police officer Michael Kendricks’ 8-month-old son, Tommy.
A few months ago, doctors diagnosed Tommy with positional plagiocephaly – a disorder that occurs when a baby’s head develops a flat spot or becomes asymmetrical from some form of external pressure such as that caused by a mattress upon which the infant sleeps.
The baby’s skull is malleable in order to allow room for the brain to grow. However, in some cases, the softness and malleability causes the back or one side of the head to flatten, especially in infants who are born with a certain form of torticollis, a condition in which a tight or shortened muscle on one side of the neck causes the head to tilt to one side.
Tommy’s condition is between moderate and severe according to his father, who also works full time as an Effingham County deputy sheriff. After attending several weeks of physical therapy, the Kendricks were told that they needed to get a special kind of helmet that would help reshape their son’s head.
“The key is to do it while they are young before their skull fuses together,” Kendricks said.
Although the officer has health insurance through the county, the plan would not cover the helmet, and he and his wife Becky still don’t know if the insurance will cover all of the physical therapy needed.
So when Jarriel and Wells, Guyton’s municipal court clerk, found out about the situation, they decided to talk to Police Chief Randy Alexander and raise some money to help pay for the helmet and any other medically needed treatment that insurance wouldn’t cover.
“It’s overwhelming the amount of support we’ve been given,” said Kendricks. “The community as a whole already contributed the amount needed (for the helmet) by the end of the second week.”
Numerous businesses and individuals have helped out.
“We really want to thank those who have given already,” said Sgt. Jarriel.
Now Tommy dons a Georgia Bulldog-adorned helmet for 22-23 hours a day and could possibly have to continue wearing it for four-12 months.
“We’re already beginning to see a difference,” Kendricks said. But he notes that there really isn’t a way to know yet just how long his son will have to continue wearing it.
In the meantime, physical therapy continues and Jarriel is busy coordinating the bake sale efforts, trying to recruit customers for the event.
“More than anything, we want people to come out to the Guyton extravaganza and spend money for a good cause,” said Jarriel.
For more information on how to donate prepackaged items to sale or to contribute, contact Sgt. Jarriel at 704-9909.
For individuals who wish to make a donation, there are collection jars at city hall, the police department, Medicap Pharmacy and Citizen’s Bank in Guyton. In addition, contributions can be made to the Tommy Kendricks fund at any Citizens Bank.