APRIL MOM 2021- Mom of the Month
MEET Shna Howard-Kennedy
MOM: Shna Howard-Kennedy
CHILD: Charm Kennedy
LOCATION: Natchitoches, LA, currently in New Orleans
DIAGNOSIS/ILLNESS: Left ventricular aneurysm (Heart) and traumatic brain injury (TBI)
PROCEDURE: Gastrostomy, also known as G-tube surgery
DATE: March 22, 2021
FAVORITE PASTIMES: Singing, dancing, cooking, and competition cheer
FAVORITE COLOR: Pink
What I Can Do, I Will Do: A Mother’s Strength to Save Her 5-Year-Old Daughter
Meet Shna Howard-Kennedy
April 2021 Mother of the Month
Life can turn on a dime and it did for Shna Howard-Kennedy and her entire family. On October 9, 2020, the Howard-Kennedy family’s life would never be the same. What started as a surprise trip to Atlanta, Georgia, for Shna’s children, ended up as a tragedy involving her 5-year-old daughter, Charm.
The Life-Threatening Emergency That Forced Shna To Take Action
Before heading to Atlanta, they stopped in Dallas to visit family. Shna’s children were playing at the park when, with absolutely no forewarning, Charm fell to the ground and her heart suddenly stopped beating. Charm is a high-spirited, happy kid, and she just had a physical the week before with no health issues indicated. Because Charm went into cardiac arrest, blood could no longer circulate to her vital organs. Without a second thought, Shna did what any mother would do — Shna sprang into action.
As Charm was rushed to Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, she received CPR to restart her heart for 25 minutes without success. After arrival at the hospital, CPR continued for another 25 minutes, for a total of 50 minutes, before there was any response. Charm survived almost 1 hour without oxygen circulating throughout her body, but the lack of oxygen caused a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Upon diagnosis of a heart aneurysm, doctors discovered Charm had been living with an undetected heart condition her entire life.
While One Heart Beats Again, Another Heart Is Blocked
As if this devastating event couldn’t get any worse, upon receiving word about his daughter’s critical condition, Shna’s husband, Ronald Kennedy, Sr., jumped in his car and rushed to his baby’s side as quickly as he could.
But Ronald did not make it to the hospital. While en route from Natchitoches, Louisiana, to Dallas, he suffered a massive heart attack and died. The stress of the news about Charm was just too much for his heart to bear.
Shna: The Glue Holding Her Family Together
For the Howard-Kennedy family, weeping endured for many nights. But for Shna, morning would come. Her unshakeable spirit and immeasurable strength allows her to rise each day, in faith, believing that her baby girl, Charm, will be alright despite any grim prognosis given by her physicians. “Some doctors told me to give up on my child, but I believe in God,” Shna stated.
Each waking moment, Shna is dedicated to her daughter’s care. She bathes Charm, changes her, cleans her feeding tube, and does whatever else she can to keep Charm comfortable and looking cute, just as she looked before this health crisis. “I will be her nurse, her doctor, and her physical therapist for as long as I have to. What I can do, I will do!” Shna proclaimed.
For the past 6 months, Shna has been staying by Charm’s side 24-7, sleeping in her hospital room. Shna also spends hours researching online for possible treatments for her daughter. “In addition to what I’ve learned from the physicians, I continue to search the internet to learn as much as I can about Charm’s condition. I feel as if I am in a university getting medical training,” she said.
In the midst of this crisis, Shna’s strength was tested once more, in the middle of March, when her Godmother died and she lost another that she truly loved. Fortunately, Shna is surrounded by love. She has an exceptionally supportive family and friends who continuously uplift her in spirit and prayer.
Charm’s Road to Recovery
On March 1, 2021, Charm was jetted from Dallas to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans. She’s still no closer to home, but Shna can breathe a small sigh of relief because Charm’s healthcare is now covered by insurance. On March 22, 2021, Charm had G-tube surgery, a procedure to insert a feeding tube into her stomach. Yet again, Charm prevailed. The surgery was a success, leaving everyone in her corner crying tears of joy.
Even to this day, Charm’s playful, sweet spirit lives up to her name. “Someone told me that Charm means grace or to honor one’s presence,” Shna stated. Charm leaves a lasting impression on everyone around her, including her mother. Shna will occasionally see what looks like a smile on Charm’s face or watch her head turn when the TV comes on. Any activity gives Shna hope that Charm is still holding on.
All Hands On Deck For #CharmKennedyStrong
With each passing day, Charm’s medical bills continue to grow exponentially. The 6 months stay at Children’s Hospital in Dallas was not covered by insurance because it was out-of-network. Charm also experiences recurring seizures, known as Neurostorming, caused by her brain trauma. Neurostorming is a reaction to the mental strain of a traumatic brain injury, and it causes the body great distress.
Hyperbaric oxygen treatments are needed to diminish these seizures, but this treatment is not covered by insurance. She will need forty treatments costing $250 per session over 18 weeks. The daily trips for these outpatient treatments are another added cost. At this time, Charm remains ineligible for a heart transplant while her brain remains in this state of trauma.
In addition to prayers, cards, and letters, Shna sorely needs your financial support for Charm’s medical bills, on-going therapy, future treatments, and travel to and from the hospital, as needed. She’s grateful for the outpour of blessings she has already received and is thrilled that Hoodies4Healing Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and Blessties Christian Apparel chose her as Mother of the Month (MOM).
The MOM initiative provides financial support to single mothers with severely ill children by creating and selling custom, special edition “I Am Healed” merchandise in honor of the child, and donating 50% of the proceeds to the mother to offset the cost of medical expenses. “Because of what I experienced with my daughter, and the promise I made to God, we strive to be a better and bigger blessing to others. We are excited to highlight Shna as Mother of the Month,” says RoseMary Tucker, Founder of Hoodies4Healing Foundation and CEO of Blessties Christian Apparel.
As an inspiration to others, Shna documents Charm’s daily journey in the fight of her life. Go to Consider It Charmed on Facebook, and you’ll be filled with the overflow of positive energy being sent, from near and far, to this adorable lover of Minnie Mouse and all things pink. Shna remains optimistic that, one day, she’ll see Charm dance again and hear Charm’s joyful singing voice, a gift she inherited from her father.
Let Your Donation Be A Declaration of Healing For Charm
You are at the right place, at the right time, to make a miracle. With your generosity, you can change Charm’s life by:
- Visiting com/mom;
- Making an impactful donation to Hoodies4Healing Foundation; or
- Purchasing the Charm Edition merchandise and wearing it as a symbol of hope.
Every penny to every dollar you give brings Charm one step closer to declaring, “I Am Healed.”
Nominate A Mother
Do you know a single mother with a severely ill child who needs our help? Nominate a single mother to be featured as the next Hoodies4Healing Foundation and Blessties’ Mother of the Month (MOM) today! Submit the mother’s name and contact information to RoseMary Tucker at email@example.com for consideration.