16 Curb Appeal - Finalist #1: The Stidham family from Howe

When life gets you down, what makes you smile?

A Howe, Indiana, couple has the trick: All they have to do is spend some time with a family member who quickly puts life in perspective.

Every day, Dillon Stidham needs a lot of help from his parents, siblings, and teacher, but they need him too.

"He's brought a lot of joy to our family and opened my eyes up to a lot of patience," admits Steve Stidham, Dillon's father.

"You could be having the worst day in your life and come home, see him and his laugh, and you forget about every bad thing that happened," explains Amy Stidham, Dillon's mother.

When Amy was five months pregnant with Dillon, doctors found dark spots in his brain.

"He has what is called Dandy Walker's syndrome -- which is he's missing two parts of his brain -- and hydrocephalus, which goes with it, which is water on the brain. He has a shunt that drains the water out," Amy explains.

When Dillon was born, his parents were prepared for the worst.

"They told us we would never be able to bring him home from the hospital... he wouldn't make it that long," Amy recalls.

Dillon proved them wrong. He'll turn 12 in December. He goes to school and is one of Annette Munsell's favorite students.

"I just think the world of him," she admits. "He's just one of the coolest little people I've ever met, and I love him dearly."

He shows his love right back, with a special way of communicating with his family and Annette.

"Smiles and eyebrows. He'll bounce his eyebrows up and down," Annette explains, as Dillon makes everyone laugh by moving his eyebrows.

With Dillon's approval, Annette came up with a plan to enter his parents in the 16 Curb Appeal contest.

"I asked him if he would be okay with the two of us nominating his mom and dad, and he clapped his hands and smiled, so I took that as a yes," Annette remembers.

His letter says it all.

"Dear channel 16: My name is Dillon and I want to nominate my mom and dad for the Curb Appeal contest. My parents never ever complain. They are thankful for every day with me," Dillon wrote.

"They just deserve to have a pretty front yard, so I thought the best way was for Dillon and I to do this behind the scenes," Annette explains.

The front yard is pretty bare, but there are some existing plants, like a Rose of Sharon and a couple of hostas.

"He loves to be outside, he loves to crawl around, so it would be nice to have a nice yard to sit out here and watch him, because he loves it," Amy says.

Dillon's little brother and sister have an idea of what they would like to see out front.

"Roses," she says.

"Sunflowers," he adds.

These are flowers this family would love to take care of, just like they take care of each other.

"It's so difficult to come over the impossible sometimes. You've got to look at the good in life. If you focus on nothing but the bad you're not going to have a happy life," Steve explains.

It's a family motto that keeps Dillon smiling and his family strong.

Dillon will move to a new classroom this year -- and a new teacher. But Annette says she'll make sure to see Dillon and his family.

If you would like more information on Dandy Walker's syndrome, visit www.dandy-walker.org

Click here to visit the voting page.


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