The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


December 31, 2013

'TRUE MIRACLE:' Cedar Hill student fights FIRES

ARDMORE — In a household filled with the rambunctious activity of his three siblings and a visiting pal, 8-year-old Robert Witherow paused from playing with his new Star Wars light saber to sing a few bars of his favorite songs while wearing a red nose and reindeer antlers given to him by his homebound teacher.

The gleeful scene on Monday afternoon was only a few days removed from the family’s first Christmas celebration in two years, and contrasted sharply with Dec. 18, 2012.

This was the day Robert collapsed with a seizure and spent 50 days in the hospital with a rare condition diagnosed as FIRES, or febrile, infection-related epilepsy syndrome.

Robert, a youth baseball player and an honor student at Cedar Hill Elementary School, returned home in February and was unable to speak or walk after spending much of his hospital stay stricken with seizures and being placed in a medically-induced coma.

The third child of Stacy and Theresia Witherow still has low vision and limited mobility, but he is no longer confined to a wheelchair. His verbal communication skills are slowly improving with the help of daily therapy and his love for music, according to his mother.

“We weren’t sure he would ever speak or walk or do any of those things again, but he is and it is so wonderful,” Theresia said. “When we see any of his hospital nurses, they’re amazed at his progress.”

Theresia grew up with a sister with a debilitating medical condition but said Robert’s condition was the first major medical crisis for her children. She and Stacy also have a 5-year-old daughter, Cassidy, and sons John, 12, and Will, 10.

She said Robert could return to Cedar Hill this spring if his mobility improves and the peak flu season passes.

“We are excited because, hopefully, in January we’ll be able to have a mobility specialist to help him get around and help us learn how to help him,” she said. “He is a true miracle, and he is amazing. He started walking even though he can’t see, and he tries to get around.”

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