It was only one in a series of blows the young couple faced after the premature birth of their triplets in July 2005.
After undergoing fertility treatments, the Grahams learned they were expecting triplets. When their sons were born prematurely at only 24 weeks gestation, the babies weighed less than two pounds each.
The smallest of the three, Preston, lived only a day and a half. Tyson and Landon began a series of treatments and surgeries to help overcome an overwhelming array of medical issues, from cerebral palsy to osteopenia to blindness.
As the boys were transferred from their birth place of Biloxi, Miss., to the New Orleans Children’s Hospital for life-saving treatments, their parents were forced to go to Georgia in anticipation of the coming hurricane.
As soon as possible, they began working their way back, fortunately finding a place near the hospital safe from looting to reside, all the while planning a funeral for one and medical care – that would eventually take them to Michigan for treatment – for the other two.
There have been many visits to hospitals for the Graham family since, but the young parents are thrilled with the progress their sons, now six-years old, have made.
“We were told they would just lay there and not move,” said Jared.
But Tyson is now walking, and can answer questions about his name, his age, his school teacher and his favorite toy, though with a voice made gravelly from the times a ventilator was put down his throat.
Tyson also has perfect pitch.
Landon was making good progress until a series of seizures, beginning with a grand mal seizure, set him back. Though he can understand directions, he gets frustrated with his lack of ability to communicate, according to his mother.
While progress has been slow by some standards, Laura and Jared have celebrated every step, every new skill, and now hope to reach another milestone.
Both boys have always been fed through a tube that carries food pureed by their parents directly to their stomachs. Laura and Jared recently learned of a program that may allow Tyson to eat normally.
The two now have hope that through Sensory Therapies and Research Center in Colorado (the STAR Center), Tyson can take another big step forward.
“I’m excited to think that he would be able to eat Cheerios and peanut butter sandwiches,” she said. “It would be one less thing to make him different.”
“And it would allow him to be more independent,” added his father, a technical sergeant at Hill Air Force Base.
At the eight-week camp, which one parent would attend with him, Tyson would learn how to deal with the sound of eating since his lack of sight has made him more sensitive to sounds. He would also learn to deal with other sensory issues such as taste, texture and smell.
“We know this is the right time for him,” said his mother, “it’s just a matter of coming up with the money.”
In fact, $20,000 is needed for the camp, an amount not covered by the family’s insurance.
To help raise the necessary funds, the Grahams and their friends have set up a fundraiser in conjunction with the Salt Lake City Marathon, set for April 21.
The Grahams were given eight spots and runners will be seeking donations and pledges in hopes of raising enough to cover the cost of the camp. Any who donate more than $5 through their website, www.moveyourfeet2eat.org, will receive a wristband.
A fund has also been set up at Wells Fargo banks for those interested in donating, also called “moveyourfeet2eat.”
“We think our boys are awesome, amazing, fun,” said Laura, adding that every child “presents their own challenges in different ways” to parents.
“We’re excited for this opportunity,” she said. “We feel good about it.”