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Madden’s Story: Friendship & Opportunity

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Walking up to the da Mata home nestled in the beautiful town of Falcon Lake, their yard is strewn with bikes and toys of all kinds. Inside is the warmest, most generous family; bustling with the activity that comes with a 9-month- old, a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old.

You helped the da Matas and many more.

Kristyn and Manny da Mata met in 2007 after Manny moved to Falcon Lake for work. In search of love, they were set-up by mutual friends.

Just a little more than a year later, Kristyn gave birth to their first child Madden. A beautiful baby, Madden was quiet and relaxed. Like most parents, Manny and Kristyn’s hearts burst with the love and possibility of this new little life. They spent countless hours marveling at his beauty and documenting his “ firsts”.

“Kristyn is the best mom, she was always playing with Madden, talking to him and teaching him things,” said Manny.

Together the couple imagined their son’s future. Would he be sporty like mom? Handy like dad? What kind of job would he have? Would he have kids of his own one day? The possibilities seemed endless. Then, at 18 months old an unsettling feeling came about. Kristyn and Manny started to wonder if their son was deaf. Then one day Kristyn saw a television commercial for early autism detection.

“The commercial listed eight signs, and Madden literally had all of them,” said Kristyn.

After showing the commercial to Manny, the parents sought out a specialist. People born with autism spectrum disorder have trouble talking, listening, learning and playing. The news was shocking. All of those dreams for their son changed. The future became uncertain.

After choosing St.Amant to support Madden and their family, the da Matas waited an emotional and dif cult six months for services.

“It was very frustrating. Madden wouldn’t listen, he was upset a lot because we didn’t know what he wanted and he was at risk of running away and getting hurt,” said Kristyn. “I felt helpless not knowing how to help my own child.”

St.Amant offers a pre-school program for children diagnosed with autism and the da Matas received 31 hours of one-to-one weekly support in their home.

“St.Amant basically saved our lives,” said Manny. “They taught us how to communicate with Madden and for him to communicate with us. They taught us how to teach him. The support has changed all of our lives.”

Madden went from a frustrated and emotional little boy, to the one we see today. Smiling, using sign language to communicate and passionate about soccer.

“He loves to play ball. He’s a good big brother and has lots of friends at school. We know that this isn’t always the case for kids with autism, and we give a lot of credit to St.Amant,” said Kristyn.

In addition to funding educational materials for children with autism, your contribution made leisure activities possible.

“Madden took swimming lessons through the St.Amant Leisure Guide and he loved them!” said Kristyn. “Being able to participate in activities is a really important part of learning social skills.”

Your support helped Madden learn to be a friend.

“We’re just so grateful. No one should have to do this alone,” said Manny.

The Da Mata Family having a group hug on a trampoline.

The autism program is just one of 6 programs that benefits from your participation, and the da Matas are just one of over 1600 families that you helped right here in Manitoba.

One of the biggest challenges for people with disabilities is not illness. It’s loneliness. This year you can help people with developmental disabilities and autism to have critical social and recreation opportunities. Your donation supports:

• Inclusive recreation and leisure opportunities

• Communication devices and mobility equipment

• Renovations to living spaces

Your attendance and support changed lives. You fostered friendships and made dreams come true. Will you help in another way by making a donation?

The initiatives you’ll be supporting are not basic food and shelter. You’ll support meaningful life events. You’ll support inclusiveness, joy and possibility. Your gift will make bright futures.

Please help Madden and over 1600 families by making a donation today. You can complete the enclosed form and mail it to us, or if you prefer, make your donation online at stamant.ca/donate or by phone at 204-258-7052.