By Jericka Duncan
CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) – After raising four children of their own, Helen and Earl Campbell of Chester have taken on the responsibility of caring for their two disabled grandchildren: 13-year-old Da’miyah and 10-year-old Darren Jr.
Both were born with a rare brain disorder called Schizencephaly and require around the clock care.
“They were living with their mother and things got a little tough,” said 68-year-old Helen Campbell.
Campbell said in 2009 Da’miyah and Darren’s father died unexpectedly in his sleep. Their mother became so overwhelmed she called Mrs. Campbell last fall, and asked her to take the children.
“I thought she was kidding,” said Mrs. Campbell. “I thought she meant take them for a ride.” Her mood quickly changed when asked about the level of stress that comes with raising grandchildren with special needs. “I’ll be honest with you, a lot of times I have to go in my bathroom and I pray and I cry in my bathroom,” said Mrs. Campbell.
“It’s very heartbreaking,” said 76-year-old Earl Campbell. “It makes me look like she’s out there by herself but that’s not the case,” referring to the days he can not help his wife lift the children and carry them downstairs. Mr. Campbell says he is a diabetic and the boot that he wears on his left foot sometimes prevents him from doing more.
“To have two grandparents and to step up like they have done, no one can ever know unless you walk in those shoes,” remarked nurse Lorraine Thompson.
Thompson has been the children’s nurse for 11 years. She posted a video on YouTube that depicts the struggles the grandparents face every Sunday when they get Da’miyah and Darren ready for church. In the video, a relative is seen putting Da’miyah and Darren’s wheelchairs in the back of his pick-up truck because the wheelchairs don’t fit in the Campbell’s car they use to drive their grandchildren to church.
Two weeks ago neighbors raised more than $10,000 for the Campbell family at a church benefit. The goal is $60,000 so the family can purchase a handicapped accessible van. They’re also working with local carpenters who offered to add an extension to the back of the Campbell’s home, for free. The additional space will serve as a first floor bedroom fro Da’miyah and Darren.
“I believe God is going to give me every single thing I need for these children, I have no doubt in my mind,” said Mrs. Campbell.
For more information on how you can help the Campbells go to: http://www.facebook.com/damiyahdarren.campbell