Occupational therapist Tamara Kittleson-Alred finds great satisfaction in treating people at Community Medical Center. Three charming boys from Pinesdale visit her to find help for genetic disorders they were born with.
"It takes away from their ability to move, speak or swallow," explains mother Charee Spencer.
Kittleson-Alred's patients and families touch more than they may realize. She too was a mother of a special needs child. Eleanore Kittleson-Alred was born with cerebral palsy in 1989.
"She used a wheelchair her whole life. She had a lot of gear like stands for her to walk," Kittleson-Alred told NBC Montana.
Though she could not hear or speak, Eleanore communicated very well. She was a good judge of character, a teaser, an artist.
One of her paintings is entitled 'I See A Song.' Kittleson-Alred says, "The significance of 'I See A Song' is that Eleanore was deaf."
I got to meet Eleanore in 2001, when he showed me how her care dog protected her, but in July of that same year, Eleanore passed away unexpectedly, just before her twelfth birthday.
"I didn't ever realize how much of an influence she'd had until after she was gone. People came forth and told me stories and anecdotes and told me the influence she had on their lives," added Kittleson-Alred.
That influence now reaches across the world. Eleanore's Project provides proper mobility and other quality of life improvements to disabled children. Right now, Kittleson-Alred and other volunteers are focusing on impoverished communities in Peru.
"It's not at all unusual to see really big kids brought in, maybe crammed into a baby carriage or carried in their parent's arms. We actually worked with a 17-year-old girl whose mother carried her piggy back style three hours to a bus stop, missed the bus, carried her three hours back, then two days later, turned right around and did it again.
So, for the next two weeks, Kittleson-Alred will leave her patients in Missoula, to bring Eleanore's warmth to young people who will then be able to move and function on their own.
Eleanore's Project not only provides therapy for disabled young people, it also raises money to pay for the needed equipment and support.