Legal Aid Chicago advocates for the safety and well-being of Chicagoland families.

Take Johnnie – proud mother of Dariaye …

At 13-months-old Dariaye was diagnosed with severe medical problems that kept her hospitalized since birth.

Dariyae’s development was stunted, which caused breathing and eating issues. Doctors informed Johnnie and her husband, Flennard, that Dariaye would never be able to walk or talk, and that would have to rely on a feeding tube for nutrition because she would never be able to eat like other children.

Devastated, but determined to give their daughter the best life that they could, the couple took steps to learn proper medical care techniques for Dariaye. After some time, parental instinct stepped in and Johnnie began to slowly wean her daughter onto food. She then began helping Dariaye learn to walk, talk, read, and to eventually eat solid food. By the time she was 3-years-old, Dariaye was off most of her medicine.

With Johnnie and Flennard’s attention and care, Dariyae attended and progressed in a specialized school focusing on children with special medical needs. Legal Aid Chicago advocated for Dariyae’s needs in that school. With the special focus that school staff provided she progressed beyond everyone’s expectations – eventually coming off the feeding and breathing tubes, and learning to read.

When she advanced to the point that her special school was no longer needed, Legal Aid Chicago served as an advocate, once again, helping the family identify a neighborhood school that could meet Dariyae’s unique needs.

Once in the school, Legal Aid Chicago began working with the family and school staff each year to adjust Dariaye’s education to meet her ever-changing needs. Her parents could not be more proud.

“Everybody at the school loves her,” Johnnie says with a proud smile. “At school, they tell us that we have a superstar! I am truly grateful to Legal Aid Chicago from the bottom of my heart.”