Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Save the Cherubs & cherub Aaron Younce make the newspaper with the world's first CDH awareness billboard!

We made the paper!  Here is an article posted in the Wilkesboro, NC "The Record"

Local youth on first billboard for CDH campaign

For The Record

Aaron Younce, of North Wilkesboro, is featured on the first ever billboard for the Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Association's [CDHA] national awareness campaign, 'Save the Cherubs'. 
And, Wilkes County is the premier site for the billboard presentation.   The electronic sign which rotates images every few seconds, is located on the east bound side of West D Street near Arby's and will remain through June 23.  Billboard space was donated by Lamar Advertising.   Williamson and her husband Craig, members of the Younce family and Severt were on hand as the billboard was first displayed last week.
Younce is depicted on the sign wearing cherub wings, the symbol of 'Save the Cherubs' campaign, which was founded by Dawn Williamson in 1995.   Photos for the campaign were taken by The Record's Missy Severt and are being used on billboards, pamphlets and the CDHA website.
Younce, the son of Carl and Julie Younce, attends Mountain View Elementary School and has lived with the severe disorder since his birth in 1999.  
 "I am so happy to be on the billboard so that lots of people can see it and learn about what CDH is," said Younce.  "I hope it will also help people understand what 'Save the Cherubs' is all about and what it is doing to help others who have it while working to find out why the disorder happens to babies."   
CDH occurs when the diaphragm fails to fully form, allowing the abdominal organs to move into the chest cavity preventing complete and normal lung development and growth.  One in every 2500 babies are born with CDH.
Upon Younce's birth, doctors gave his parents the horrific prognosis that he would not live.  He spent the first three months of his life in the PICU and NICU at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center where he underwent two major surgeries and numerous other medical procedures to help correct some of the most critical issues.  When his team of specialists determined he had gained enough strength to go home, his family turned their nursery into an in home hospital room equipped with life saving oxygen, heart monitors, suction machines, feeding pumps and pulse oximeter.  For many years, this was the normal everyday life in the home. 
 With continued medical support, family love and God's blessings, Younce gained strength and abilities that enabled him to detach from his highly controlled and monitored lifestyle.  Today he is capable of living without daily oxygen except when he requires extra breathing help during bouts of illness.  However, CDH has left Younce with pulmonary hyperplasia of the left lung, pulmonary hypotension and asthma, making every other illness that he contracts, such as colds or viruses, much more serious and harder to fight.
 CDH, unknown to most, occurs as often as other defects such as Cystic Fibrosis and Spina Bifida.  The goal of the Raleigh based, national CDH CHERUBS non-profit organization is to bring awareness, understanding and hope for families fighting the deadly defect.
 "As a parent of a child with CDH it is so hard to watch your child struggle to just breathe at times," said Aaron's mother Julie. "To sit in the NICU and not know what the next five minutes will hold for your baby is the worst feeling in the world.  Aaron is a little older now and continues to struggle with simple things we so often take for granite like eating and gaining weight. Even with all of his continued problems never one time has he questioned why or why me. He is  going out there and telling anyone and everyone about CDH and cherubs in order to make them aware of the serious disorder in hopes of one day finding a cause and a cure.  Aaron is a hero to me."
 Younce is looking forward to spending lots of time swimming and learning about the art of clay sculpture during his summer break.  He is excited to enter the fourth grade in the fall and see all of his old friends while making new ones at school.
For more information on CDHA and 'Save the Cherubs' visit

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