Melvin and LaToya Randle are parents of two boys. The oldest is in college and the youngest,
Julian, has special health challenges. Julian has been diagnosed with JDM which LaToya describesnas a combination of lupus and muscular dystrophy. Since his diagnosis he has had over 130 treatments, many of which were performed on a weekly basis. His current treatment schedule is monthly. Despite his medical challenges, this “Hero” is currently a straight A student.
Over the course of his diagnosis and treatment Julian’s parents have faced challenges of their
own. Melvin was laid off from his job early in the process of diagnosing Julian’s condition and
LaToya was forced to quit her coaching job to focus on his care. However, this family has
maximized its resources such that LaToya formed her own business to help supplement the
family’s income. Her business meets another need, however. LaToya is using her talents as a
coach to mentor girls and help them make wise choices and reach their potential, through a
special girls’ basketball program.
This family’s resourcefulness does not diminish their need for the support which Wichita’s
Littlest Heroes provides. LaToya notes that she met WLH founder and CEO, Brianna Coffey-
Baskerville, at the hospital where both were dealing with the medical needs of their children.
LaToya was about two years into the diagnosis process with Julian, and Brianna was just
learning the extent of her son, Tristan’s medical condition. The two mothers shared stories,
fears, concerns and hope. Brianna went on to create Wichita’s Littlest Heroes about six months
LaToya and her husband have both been recipients of WLH programming and support. LaToya
notes that one resource she and her husband have found particularly helpful, is the support
option for fathers, who are often overlooked in the care model for medically fragile children.
She says that providing resources, activities and outings specifically for men who are caregivers, helps break through a common misconception that this role is only for women. WLH’s support options for fathers of special needs children has helped Melvin appreciate his role and he has become a role model for other fathers.
Regarding her own involvement with WLH, LaToya recalls an especially memorable occasion
when she and Brianna took their boys trick or treating together, along with the boys’
grandmothers. She remembers how much she appreciated having a mother with a child with
special medical needs, to ‘literally’ walk beside her for that outing. She also recalls the big hugs they shared as that activity concluded.
LaToya’s belief in WLH has led her to support the agency in a very concrete way. Her business
sponsors basketball tournaments and she has donated admissions proceeds from those
tournament, to WLH. In her words, her commitment to participate with and support WLH,
helps ensure that ‘her pain was not in vain’.
Their message for supporters of WLH as well as families who are in situations similar to
hers. To current or potential donors she says what may seem like a small donation can make a
huge difference in a family’s life, especially when families experience job losses. Having reduced income causes worry about how to make ends meet, on top of caring for a sick child. Having resources from WLH makes it easier to be a parent and focus on caring for the child.
Her messaage to potential family participants would be: “In the moment you feel like you’re
helpless. Allow yourself to break. Then start putting yourself back together, piece by piece. You will resemble a mosaic vase. After all the pieces are put back you will be beautiful and strong. It’s important to pray and ask God to help you put the pieces back together.”