LaShon Strickland

'There's help out there'

Lashonda Strickland with son LaShon Strickland (2012)
Surgery gave little LaShon Strickland a chance to overcome a disfiguring condition that threatened to dog him throughout his life.

In 2012, charitable nonprofit NDAD support helped ensure his mom’s on-site support during the surgery and hospital stay.

The Wahpeton, N.D., boy was born Aug. 17, 2011, with craniosynostosis, which circumvents soft areas of an infant’s head that, with time, allow the skull to expand and grow. LaShon’s skull plates were fused at birth, threatening to misshapen his head as his skull grew.

LaShon, at 5½ months old, underwent surgery on his cranial vault at a St. Paul, Minn., hospital. Pieces of his inflexible skull were removed and replace with dissolvable plates that will disappear as his skull grows into a more typically rounded shape.

With a much-needed assist from gas cards provided by NDAD, LaShon’s mother, Lashonda Nolen, traveled between Wahpeton, N.D., and St. Paul.

NDAD also helped with her hotel stay during surgery.

“I’m from Indiana originally, and we don’t have programs like this,” she said, adding that the work by then-client services representative Jeri Hietala left her “amazed.”

Lashonda hopes her son’s story will inspire others to ask for the help they need. “There is help out there,” she said. “It’s good to ask for help when you need it.”

-- Mike Brue

The writer is communications director for NDAD.

NOTE: Originally published in the fall of 2012.