WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Our military service members have pushed through this pandemic while their families push through tough times at home.
One Florida family has dealt with the uncertainty of their son's health issues in these uncertain times.
The West Palm Beach Fisher House has been a key resource for the Christopherson family, but it's been rebounding through it's own pandemic challenges as well.
9-year-old Aidan Christopherson is getting several limb lengthening procedures at a West Palm Beach hospital.
"It isn't that hard now, but when I was in the hospital it was really tough," said Aidan.
Aidan's dad is in the Air Force and because of his service, he can't be with the Aidan, and family which includes Aidan’s brother and mother.
"I definitely miss dad, but she's done a lot," Aidan said referring to his Mom.
Aidan’s father’s military service makes the Christopherson family eligible to stay at the Fisher House free of charge, instead of paying for a hotel during lengthy trips from the Panhandle.
The Fisher House is on the grounds of the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.
"We would not be able to make this work if not for the Fisher House," Aidan’s mother, Courtney Christopherson said. "We'd be taking out a loan, or whatever we have to do because, you know, a military salary, it would have been really hard."
The pandemic affected Aidan's original surgery date in March 2020.
The family drove 8 hours back then, only to get word that all elective surgeries were postponed due to COVID-19.
Now, a year later, the procedures are rescheduled.
The Christopherson boys do their online distance learning in a new gazebo built outside the Fisher House.
Inside, House Manager Shelley Prickett has steered through the ups and downs of the pandemic.
In normal years, Fisher House is almost 100 percent full. In 2020, it was only about half full.
"I remember coming in and sitting in the living room," Prickett said. "There was nobody staying at this fisher house and I thought there's got to be somebody out there that needs this service.”
Slowly, but surely, surgeries were rescheduled.
"Now I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like we're getting back to some normalcy," said Prickett.
Families like the Christopherson’s are seeing hope again.
"Aidan’s a strong kid, as a family we're really strong to have to go through something like this. And I've had moments where I've broken down," said Courtney Christopherson.
In those moments, a home away from home is making a big difference.