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AWARE Ink Newsletter

Montana Mother of the Year award goes to AWARE client

Jean Thorgaard, dedicated single mother of three, was named the 2021 Montana Mother of the Year. A friend nominated Jean last fall, and she received word back in January about being the recipient of the national award.

AWARE is lucky to know Jean and her family through the case management work we do with her son.

As Montana Mother of the Year, Jean was recognized for her strength in raising her three children, Lexi ,16; Annie, 15; and Daylon,13, (pictured above) as a single mom working a full-time job.

Jean works as a CNA in a long-term care facility. She is registered at Billings College to become an RN this fall. Jean has always wanted to be a nurse and follows in the footsteps of her dad working in the medical field.

“After the divorce, I felt it was time to do something more to provide better for the kids and show them anything is possible,” Jean said.

During an interview, Jean offered some nice words about each of her children, “The most surprising thing about being a mom is recognizing the difference of each child’s thoughts and beliefs,” Jean said.

Challenge of motherhood

While raising two daughters and a son to become successful teenagers is a challenge in itself, Jean is proud of the work she has done to support her son who has grown up with a rare genetic condition, blood disorder, ADHD, and autism.

Since he was a young child, Daylon has been in and out of doctor’s offices and surgeries (44 in 13 years) and has taken part in many other necessary treatments that support his growth. Jean named 11 different specialists Daylon has seen in his short lifetime.

Daylon attends school and likes to watch YouTube videos, plays video games, and plays outside just like other 13-year-olds. “He is complex on the inside but looks normal on the outside,” Jean said.

Jean is excited about Daylon’s recent success. He has worn a feeding tube for the last eight years. He removed the tube a week ago. Daylon loves to go to the lake with his family, and this will allow him to go swimming this summer.

AWARE support

AWARE Case Manger Shay Hansen has been working with Jean over the last year. Shay connected Jean and Daylon to a personal care assistant who provides day care focused on teaching daily activities such as cooking, eating, bathing, and medical needs.

Shay says she could hear the excitement in Jean’s voice when she heard that she was awarded Montana Mother of the Year. “They have overcome a lot of barriers,” Shay said.

The Mother of the Year award was created by Elenor Roosevelt in 1931. Since then, mothers from all 50 states have been recognized. According to the American Mothers website, women who receive the national award “provide an inspiration to the nation that would represent a mother’s unconditional love.”

Read more about the Montana Mother of the Year here.

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