STROUDSBURG, Pa. - There are a lot of Christmas stockings hanging in the Johnson's home.
"It can get chaotic," said Craig Johnson, Pastor of Christian Life Assembly in Stroudsburg.
Craig and Liz Johnson have five children, three are biological and two are adopted. They also have a sixth, a foster child living in their home.
"It's always an adventure and it's never dull," said Johnson.
Their youngest son, Gabe, is two years old and came to them as a foster child when he was just three weeks old. The Johnsons officially adopted him in November, a journey that has taken them places they could have never predicted, like the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
"He basically has a doctor for every part of his body," said Liz Johnson.
Gabe has a rare genetic disease; there are only five other cases documented in the world.
"When we met with the geneticist, they gave us like three or four pieces of paper and said, this is what's out there right now, so there's no long term study," said Johnson.
Gabe is legally blind with severe developmental delays. In his short two years of life, he's been through nine procedures and spends most of his days at doctor’s appointments or physical therapy. But he's a fighter and continues to meet new milestones, like sitting up right.
"It's been a roller coaster but he's doing phenomenal," said Johnson.
With his genetic mutation being so rare, Gabe's future is unpredictable.
But the Johnsons say they're optimistic and excited about the possibility of helping other children with the same disease.
"His entire struggle would be so valuable to someone else," said Johnson.
But in the meantime, Gabe is having an impact on at least five kids, his siblings, who Liz and Craig say adore him.
"They can't wait to come home and play with him, they know he's going to require extra attention from us, they know we're going to be spending time at the hospital," said Johnson.
It's a full-family sacrifice that the Johnsons wouldn't trade for the world and while Gabe may not be able to physically see his Christmas stocking, his family knows he can feel the warmth and love this holiday season.
The Johnsons are among eight other families receiving gifts this Christmas from the Olsen Christmas Wish, a fundraiser set up in honor of fallen officer Jeff Olsen.
If you'd like to donate, head to the GoFundMe page dedicated to the fund.
A nonprofit that serves people throughout the region is in a serious pinch.Read More »
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