Currently viewing the tag: "bacterial meningitis"

The Hershey Children’s Hospital and Hershey Rehab, Wyatt Black, of Thurmont, who battled Bacterial Meningitis, was finally able to come home on June 3, 2016. Wyatt is getting better each and every day. His progress is slow and steady, but he is winning the race against this virus. His parents, Chris and Kiona Black, can see improvements in him weekly. Kiona (the one who holds this family together) is by his side 24/7. Kiona and Wyatt travel to Hagerstown for rehab three times a week for speech, physical, and occupational therapy. One of his physical therapy days is spent in the pool.

He is expected to start back to school at Catoctin High in the fall, where he will be a sophomore. Thanks to Wyatt being an overachiever in middle school, he earned three high school credit classes—Spanish 1 and 2 and Algebra—giving him enough credits before his sickness to advance to the next grade despite missing a large portion of his freshman year.

This summer, he is enjoying some time at the family’s orchard, Catoctin Mountain Orchard, swimming, and relaxing in the pond.
“His appetite is back to normal, eating us out of house and home,” Chris said happily. Wyatt hopes to begin walking with a cane (instead of a walker) in early August.
Wyatt Black (center) with his brothers, Nathan (left) and Eaves.

Deb Spalding

wyatt-fire-housewyatt-birthday-cakeWe all catch a cold or a flu bug now and then, but at the end of February of this year, 15-year-old Wyatt Black of Thurmont caught a very serious infection: bacterial meningitis.

Wyatt is an active, fun, farm-grown teenager. He plays sports, loves baseball, trains, and fire trucks, and is quick with a joke to brighten your day.

His extended family is well-known in the area as the proprietors of Catoctin Mountain Orchard. For generations, members of the Black family have proven themselves to be valuable members of the community and stewards of the land. That tradition continues today, with the youngest generation of Blacks, including Wyatt and his younger brothers, Nathan and Eaves, contributing to the orchard operation.

His parents, Christopher and Kiona Black, often show up to community functions with fresh fruit, a pie, or some other orchard-grown offering of good will. You could say, they’ve “got your back” regarding your sweet tooth. As of late, the entire Catoctin Community now has “got their back,” too!

Wyatt-Fill-the-Bootwyatt-catoctin-softballWhen Wyatt began his fight against meningitis, he was taken to Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where he received exceptional care. From the beginning of his battle, his parents took to social media to give updates about Wyatt’s condition.

What they didn’t foresee was that those updates, via social media, would spread to thousands of people. The updates served to “rally the troops,” so to speak, for community members and friends to join together and flood the cosmos with prayers, community good-will, community spirit, and energy—all directed towards Wyatt’s battle against the infection.

The volume of action people have taken for Wyatt is astounding. People chanted “Wyatt! Wyatt! Wyatt!” at a fundraiser at the Furnace Bar & Grill in Thurmont; local students sent him drawings for his birthday; “Wyatt Strong” t-shirts are being sold; a “Fill the Boot” fundraiser was held; “Wings for Wyatt” is on-going on Wednesdays at Bollinger’s Restaurant in Thurmont; “Wioters Unite!” wristbands are being sold; and Catoctin High School Baseball is “Team Wyatt.” Catoctin FFA sponsored “Miles for Meningitis,” where participants were able to “beat” meningitis by taking a sledge hammer to a vehicle; a TES Talent Show featured Erin Bollinger, Hayley Bollinger, and Austin Ridenour “Whippin For Wyatt”; Kountry Kitchen Restaurant and Cousins ACE Hardware in Thurmont and Harrington & Sons in Emmitsburg posted messages for Wyatt on their marquis or store windows; a parade was held; raffles, auctions, and ribbon drives have been held; signs and banners state support; cookies were sold for Wyatt; lemonade was sold for Wyatt; food and gifts have been donated; and let’s not forget the many families, individuals, churches, and communities who continue praying for Wyatt.

Wyatt-3Wyatt-1We are sure we have missed naming many additional wonderful efforts and people here. Two upcoming events that we’ve learned about include “Wheels for Wyatt Car Show” at the Thurmont Carnival Grounds on April 9, 2016, and an All-You-Can-Eat Benefit Breakfast for Wyatt Black at Trinity United Church of Christ in Thurmont on April 16, 2016.

If a community can unite to heal a person, Catoctin’s community is doing it!

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes that protect the spinal cord and brain. When these protective membranes become inflamed, it has a harmful impact on every part of the body. At times our bodies can combat the bacteria and move on as if it were a common bug; yet, sometimes, it is a serious infection that sometimes leads to impairment or fatality.

In mid-March, after successfully breathing on his own and having his intubation tube removed, Wyatt was transferred to Penn State Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital, also located in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Since arriving there, rehabilitation therapies have shown that he is able to write to communicate, but some skills need further development. Chris gave an update on Monday, March 28, “Today makes one week at rehab, they are anticipating another 3-5 weeks till he comes home. He receives speech, physical and occupational therapy daily. He needs to work on walking. He is getting better every day with swallowing. They are saying that he cannot open his eyes yet because the infection is still present in that part of his brain.”

Lemonade-for-Wyattwings-for-WyattEvery day, our community has stood by Wyatt and his family, and continues to do so. The social loop on the internet has provided a fluent portal to communicate support and prayers.

While the medical doctors have not given a clear answer as to the magnitude or speed of Wyatt’s recovery, the Blacks have been assured by former patients that, “Wyatt will be just fine. It just takes time.” But, the fight is not won yet. It is a long recovery process for meningitis.

One friend on Facebook posted, “Thank you to all that have been praying. He’s been making great improvements and will continue to get back to the old Wyatt with all of your prayers, positive thoughts, and energy. This kid is truly a class act. We need more Wyatts in this world!!”

Owyatt miles for meningitisn March 24, Kiona posted, “Every day I am thinking of new ways to help Wyatt recover. Today he showed signs that he has both retrograde and anterograde amnesia when it comes to certain topics… Please post a favorite funny story that I can share with Wy and his brothers to help him rebuild his memory bank and to create an activity that the Brothers Three can do together. Having the Middle and Little involved in the story telling should help all of them start to move forward…together.”

wyatt whippin for wyattThe Blacks graciously thank everyone for their generous donations. There are not words to express gratitude for all of the support and caring that the Catoctin Community has shown!

About Wyatt, Chris and Kiona expressed, “We know in our hearts that he will make a full recovery. He has shown so much fight since day one.”

See Kiona’s (Wyatt’s mom) “Love Letter to my Sons” on page 31.

by Avie Hopcraft

Winter is finally ending and spring is here! Spring sports have started at Catoctin, and that means that prom and graduation are right around the corner!

One big issue that has consumed everyone’s thoughts this month is the condition of one of Catoctin’s students, Wyatt Black. Wyatt Black, a freshman at Catoctin High, has everyone worried sick. He was sent out to Penn State Children’s Hospital at Hershey, because he had been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

Not just the school, but the entire community, has been doing everything it can to raise awareness and money for Wyatt Black and his family. Students have been raising awareness by wearing his favorite colors to school, sending cards, notes, banners, and hosting fundraisers. One fundraiser was called “Beat the Van”and allowed people to pay $5.00 to beat a van with a bat. That fundraiser resulted in $4,700 in donations.

Many other caring local restaurants and businesses have also held fundraisers to help support the Black family. The community as a whole is praying for Wyatt and his family, and this has definitely brought everyone closer together, making people realize how important it is to have each other in times like this.

On another topic, Mrs. Flabbi, an instructional assistant and advisor of the school’s Spirit Club, called Catoctin Crazies, has offered to host a history throw-back to the time when she went to Catoctin as a young teenager. So, hold up and get ready, because we’re going back in time!

Mrs. Flabbi has always lived in Thurmont; she started at Catoctin High School in 1975 and graduated in 1978.  She remembers that Catoctin High was always a great school, just like it is today. She loves it so much that she has worked at Catoctin for twenty-eight years. Back in the day, she played on the field hockey team. She later became a coach of field hockey and softball, and coached both for a number of years.

Mrs. Flabbi said that when she was a student, there were eight periods a day instead of four.

“With only forty-five minutes a day in a class, you didn’t get the chance to know all of your teachers, but I sure had a few that were very special to me.” She explained, “Today, our teachers really go above and beyond to be positive influences in our students’ lives and offer them the support and help they need. And with only four blocks a day, students really get the chance to know their teachers and vice versa.” She added, “Catoctin’s SGA (Student Government Association) and the Crazies, for example, offer a lot of fun, student-staff activities.”

“When I was a student at Catoctin, sports were our main extra-curricular activity,” said Mrs. Flabbi. She added that it was hard to juggle school work and sports when she was a student. “It was up to you, and you alone, to keep your grades up when I was a student.  If you fell behind in your classes, you had to go get help on your own and no one stopped you from playing your sport. You had to push yourself to keep your grades up. Today, teachers reach out to students and offer tutoring during STEP and after school to help them before they fall behind.”

“All schools have their ups and downs,” said Mrs. Flabbi, “but, as a student, I never wanted to go to another school; I always loved it here. I think we have the best school in the county,” said Mrs. Flabbi, adding,  “For example, you don’t see the principal at every high school, but that man (referring to Mr. Quesada) stands outside every day in all kinds of weather, holding the door open and greeting students.”

Mrs. Flabbi also talked about how proud she is of the students and staff for their kindness and support for Wyatt Black and his family, and that kids have stepped out of their own personal bubble and care for one another. Catoctin is known for being a great role model for other schools; this is just one example of why Catoctin recently received the state School Character Award.