SAN ANTONIO – Chris McGowan remembers the moment he learned his little girl Charlie was going to have developmental delays. It was right after she was born.
“I did not know anything started being wrong until that day. I held her and she started choking,” McGowan said. “We spent 56 days in the NICU and had to fight like crazy to get her out.”
Doctors told McGowan his daughter had several health complications and would struggle to function normally. He researched how to help Charlie and found the Brighton Center in 2018.
“I can even tell you my world would not exist without this place,” McGowan said.
The Brighton Center serves 3,500 kids every year in the San Antonio area. The center offers pediatric therapy, preschool and also helps parents navigate through the special education process. Katrina Campbell, CEO of the Brighton Center, said their goal is provide help at the right time.
“90% of brain development happens before the age of five for children. We really focus our therapy and education models on that early age,” Campbell said.
Campbell said it can be overwhelming for parents, but the center is there to guide them and their children.
“About 70% of the kids that we work with in our therapy program never need services again,” Campbell said. “It’s just a testament to the right help at the right time, getting in early and working with the families that were really set them up for a successful future.”
“I watch every parent who comes in here and you see them struggle. It’s hard to not feel alone. This place changes not only the children, but it changes the parents,” McGowan said.
The center has evolved over the years to meet the needs of children with disabilities or delays and will provide services to families regardless of their ability to pay.
“It really is an honor to be able to serve families and just walk through this journey with them,” Campbell said.
That journey is in part supported by the Taste of the Northside. All proceeds from Thursday’s Fiesta event go to the center.
“We hope to raise close to three quarters of $1 million. It’s a great Fiesta event. We have a new day, Thursday, and a new location at the Dominion Country Club. It’s going to be a really great time and a great opportunity to support kids in your community,” Campbell said.
McGowan’s daughter is now four years old and continuing to grow and break through hurdles in front of her.
“To watch her just smash every ceiling that anybody thought they could ever set for her is not only the most amazing feeling as a father, but just as a human being,” McGowan said. “You already have a hard time seeing your kids suffer, but she’s a daily inspiration.”