"That always makes me happy," said Jennifer Schutz.
Schutz chooses to focus on what her two-year-old daughter can do rather than on her limitations. There are a lot, but there should not have been any.
"It would be so hard to always think of what should be," she said. "We have to look at the little progress that she is making or our hearts will break every day."
"It is amazing that she can do anything," Susan Burke, Jasmine's grandmother, said. "The doctors said she'd do nothing and be on a feeding tube."
Jasmine is a victim of shaken baby syndrome. A moment of terrible abuse took a perfectly healthy infant and erased so much potential for her life ahead.
"When she was injured, the doctors told us she probably would not survive the week," Schutz said.
Jasmine's father, Rocky Lee Ankney, is in jail convicted of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. Prosecutors say he injured Jasmine when she was eight weeks old.
Schutz was at work as a geriatric nurse when it happened.
Denver police say Ankney did not call 911, but he called his wife claiming he dropped the baby as he got her out of the bathtub.
Detectives and doctors say Jasmine's injuries could not have been caused by a simple fall. Her ribs were broken. Her brain was bruised and there was bleeding on both sides of her head. She lost her vision too.
"You wouldn't think your husband would do it," Schutz said. "He quit his job to stay home with her. Nothing about it makes any sense."
Shaken baby syndrome is the leading cause of trauma death in children under two years old in Colorado. When Schutz started learning more about it, she made a promise to Jasmine to be part of the solution. In the last 2 years since the devastating injury, they have. They are now advocates against any kind of child abuse.
Jasmine can make some small noises and laugh. But, she cannot speak. Her mom and her grandma are her voice.
"It is so preventable that there is no reason it should even be an issue," Burke said. "And as big of an issue as it is, we want it to end."
Burke says that is the family's mission now.
Jasmine can't do what other children her age do. She should be walking and coloring with crayons. Those things will never happen.
It is a big accomplishment in physical therapy for Jasmine to hold her head up, to make eye contact and to put weight on her feet that are supported with braces.
Leslie Watson is a pediatric physical therapist. She has worked with Jasmine three days a week since she was well enough to start rehab.
"When Jasmine was one," Watson said. "She wasn't even at a six-month-old level in the way she functioned.
Schutz says her daughter isn't sitting up yet. She is trying to, but she isn't.
"Maybe one day she will," she said.
The "maybe" is the most difficult part. Schutz doesn't know if she'll ever hear her daughter say "mom."
"When you have a baby that was born with all the potential to be all that she can be and then have something horrific happen from someone who is supposed to protect her - that is very difficult," Schutz said.
Jasmine is making some progress. Her family is grateful for any progress at all. No one knows what the future will bring, but Schutz says she does know that together, she and Jasmine will work to prevent child abuse.
You can take a pledge to never shake a baby at www.giveyourword.org. You can also be a part of the 1st annual Jasmine Childhelp Celebrity Golf Classic on Monday September 17.
"Hopefully we can do it annually and collect a lot of money and make people aware out there to help a lot of children," Burke said.
Information on the Golf Classic:
Monday, September 17, 2012
8:30 AM Registration
10:00 AM "Shotgun" start at the Black Stone Country Club in Aurora
7777 South Country Club Parkway Aurora, CO 80016
Founded in 1959 by Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Fedderson, Childhelp® is a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect. Childhelp's approach focuses on prevention, intervention and treatment. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD®, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and receives calls from throughout the United States, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.
Childhelp's programs and services also include residential treatment services (villages); children's advocacy centers; therapeutic foster care; group homes; child abuse prevention, education and training; and the National Day of Hope®, part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month every April
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