As a 7-year-old boy, AJ Cropps from Durham, North Carolina is your typical boy. He loves to play sports, especially basketball and baseball. He loves coloring, playing video games and playing with his dog, Angel. However, growing up, certain things were more of a challenge to pick up.
“I started noticing differences from birth that I couldn’t explain,” said Angela Cropps, AJ’s mom. “It wasn’t until preschool that his differences became more obvious.”
AJ was tested for sensory processing disorder and motor delays at 4 years old. At age 5, he was also diagnosed with high functioning autism, ADHD and anxiety.
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) makes it more difficult to receive messages from your senses. While those with SPD can still see and hear, they may have trouble decoding the sensory information, which may make it difficult for them to respond appropriately to certain situations. For AJ, it makes it difficult to do simple tasks on his own, which can be frustrating for someone who yearns to be independent.
The Cropps family signed him up for occupational therapy to help him master his daily activities and fine tune his motor skills, however, the bills were piling up. That’s when their occupational therapist informed them about the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF). The UHCCF’s grant program helps provide financial assistance for medical needs not covered, or not fully covered, by commercial health insurance plans.
After applying online, AJ was accepted as a grant recipient, which allowed the family to continue his treatment to help him gain more independence.
“We felt supported and that someone had our backs during this difficult time,” Angela said. “The grant has been helpful to AJ in allowing him to continue his occupational therapy services.”
Since 2007, UHCCF has awarded more than 23,000 grants — nearly $51 million total — to children and their families across the United States.
AJ knows firsthand the impact these grants make for children like him. In gratitude, he is serving as an ambassador for the UHCCF’s Steppin’ Up for Kids virtual fundraiser. This year’s online move-a-thon challenges participants to move 50,000 steps or more throughout June while raising awareness and funding medical grants for kids across the U.S.
Participants can earn their 50,000+ steps through any activity that helps fuel the body, such as walking, running, jumping, dancing, bike riding or just moving around the house.