Editor's note: Light One Candle is an annual series sponsored by the Mail Tribune that focuses on an individual, group or agency that could use a helping hand during the holiday season. Once that need is filled, donations may be distributed to others in need.

Editor's note: Light One Candle is an annual series sponsored by the Mail Tribune that focuses on an individual, group or agency that could use a helping hand during the holiday season. Once that need is filled, donations may be distributed to others in need.



These grandparents want nothing more than to care for their 6-year-old grandson, who experiences Down syndrome.

The challenges of providing for a special-needs child, however, are more challenging for guardians who suffer their own medical conditions. Since the grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife can cherish time alone together while their grandson is in respite care provided by The Arc of Jackson County.

Funds contributed to the Lifespan Respite program on behalf of this Ashland family would grant them more moments of relaxation. Gift certificates for massage or acupuncture would be blissful.

About five years ago, the grandparents thought their days of raising children were in the distant past — and retirement beckoned in the near future — when they received a phone call that their grandson's mother had abandoned him.

Police found the boy alone, in a bicycle trailer, under a bridge in 38-degree weather. The boy's father — the couple's son — was unaware that he was in peril.

The boy immediately moved in with his grandparents, who won custody of him with their son's support. Seeking help to alleviate stress, the grandparents attended a resource fair where they heard about Lifespan Respite. Hundreds of local clients with disabilities — regardless of age or special need — benefit from the program.

Some initial donations toward the cost of respite accompanied the family's match with a provider. When their grandson is at his caregiver's house, the couple can rest and take walks together.

Going on walks and throwing sticks into the creek is one the boy's favorite activities, in addition to playing basketball and with toy dinosaurs. Riding the bus and things that spin — fans and helicopters — fascinate him.

Above all, the boy and his grandparents love music. The couple jam at home when they're not singing and playing guitar in local folk, country and classic rock bands.

To keep a song in this family's heart, call Mark Becker, executive assistant for The Arc, at 541-779-4520.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or slemon@mailtribune.com.