One word comes to mind when anyone enters the same room as Matthew Ward: Joy.

Born weighing less than two pounds, Matthew had a low chance of survival, but with lots of nurturing from his adoptive parents, Matthew recently celebrated his tenth birthday. To help celebrate his double-digit milestone, Vanderbilt Medical Center surprised Matthew with a custom-made Elmo cake.

Matthew has Cerebral Palsy, Lennox Gastaut (a rare form of epilepsy) and brittle bones. At its peak, Matthew had up to 300 seizures per day and nearly 85 medical appointments per month.

“A year ago, things just turned,” said Matthew’s mother, Lisa. “Since we figured out and adjusted his seating, it has been a game changer in his life. From last fall until now, he’s only been sick once. He’s doing really well.”

Despite Matthew’s history of health challenges, he radiates happiness and love of life. He enjoys listening to Tim McGraw and watching his favorite movie, “Sing.”

“Recently, he went from barely moving to starting to kick his feet and dance with his hands,” said Lisa. “I told his orthopedic doctor it was the strangest thing since he is a quadriplegic. He is not supposed to be able to move on demand. I said do I stop him? And he said, don’t take his joy away. Let him do it. Let him dance. He wasn’t supposed to make it 15 times, now he’s dancing. He is full of joy.”


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