Johnny’s Story

by Arleen Bandarrae

Published on July 11, 2023

Photo of Johnny and his family.

With a free spirit and a heart full of love, 6-year-old Johnny rides his wheelchair around Family House with a giant smile on his face. He’s bursting with positive energy and always stops to play and chit chat.

Four years ago, Johnny was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM) with Calcinosis Universalis. JDM results in weak muscles and impairs physical function in severe cases.

“Family House has been a huge help to us financially and emotionally,” said Johnny’s mom and dad, Martina and Aldrich.

“It was a relief knowing we had a place to stay, while my son continues his treatment and follow-up appointments at UCSF,” said Martina. Their family came to Family House from Houston, Texas in 2022.

“We feel the homey vibe here.”

Photo of Johnny.

Johnny has gotten into the groove at Family House. He loves to sing and dance, and he really enjoys engaging in music sessions. Johnny is a kindhearted kid who has many friends. Our staff quickly won his heart with uplifting acts of kindness, like toys from Fozzy’s toy room. For Johnny, it is a welcome treat that can make all the difference after a day of doctor appointments at the hospital.

Back home, he finds happiness in controlling Mario and Luigi in the popular Super Mario video game. He loves the challenge of navigating a colorful 3D world, defeating enemies, collecting power, and leveling up.

He’s also hands-on when it comes to playing with LEGOs and painting with his mom.

Photo of Johnny at the Family House toy room with staff member Diana.

Photography by Marco Sanchez, UCSF Documents & Media.

Family House San Francisco is an independent non-profit organization led by a professional staff and board of directors dedicated to providing residential services free of charge to qualifying families. We rely solely on the generous contributions of individuals, corporations, and foundations.

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