October 5, 2019
Written By Jason Jenkins
Centralia couple’s innovative solution helps kids around the world
Headlines and awards weren’t on Taylor Moreland’s mind that night in August 2018 when he flipped on the lights in his Centralia garage, sat down and began to work.
All he was thinking about was how he could help his son, Brody.
Born with spina bifida, Brody, now 2 years old, has little to no movement or control of his body below his chest. His ability to be mobile like other toddlers — whether playing with toys, chasing the cat or generally exploring his world — was completely hindered. He needed a way to crawl.
“We tried a scooter board, but it didn’t work on the carpet, and his hands would get stuck underneath it,” Taylor recalls. “So, I just started tinkering.”
The result was “The Frog,” a mobility device for children as young as 6 months old. The Frog supports the weight of the lower body on a teetering frame with independent wheels, allowing a child to push up with his arms and pull himself along. The forward motion resembles a hopping frog, hence the device’s name.
“When we made the first version for Brody, we never thought we would make it for anybody else,” says Ally, Brody’s mother. “But when his physical therapist said other kids could benefit, we realized there was a big need. It was so thrilling for us to see Brody move wherever he wanted on his own, so we said, ‘OK, let’s try to get other kids moving.’”
With a goal of building 100 Frogs for the year, the Morelands started a GoFundMe campaign this past January. After receiving local press coverage in the spring, the story was picked up nationally. In late June, ABC’s “World News Tonight” told Brody’s story.
“After that, the GoFundMe just exploded,” Taylor says. “We raised $50,000 in a matter of hours, and by the end of the weekend, we had raised $100,000.”
Overnight, they began receiving inquiries from scores of parents whose children had spina bifida as well as conditions such as cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.
“There’s nothing like it out there for kids who can’t crawl,” Ally says. “It takes weight off the upper extremities so they can get the concept a lot easier.”
As of the end of September, the Morelands had raised more than $145,000 through their GoFundMe campaign and shipped 150 Frogs. They estimate it costs $300 to build and ship one Frog, which they’ve sent as far away as Africa and Europe.
“When you have a child with special needs, you need a lot of equipment, and none of it is cheap,” Taylor says. “Insurance helps, but not with all of it. We wanted to make The Frog free for parents who couldn’t afford it and affordable for parents who could.”
Recently, the Patient Innovation Association, an international nonprofit organization based in Portugal, selected The Frog for one of its 4th annual PI Awards, which will be presented in Paris, France, in December. While humbled by the honor, the Morelands don’t plan to attend — and with good reason. Their second son, Brett, was born in September.
“With the new baby, we aren’t making the trip to France,” Ally says, “but Gerti Motovalli, Brody’s amazing physical therapist, is going to go and accept on Taylor’s behalf.”
As the Morelands continue filling orders for the original Frog, Taylor already is designing a larger model to accommodate older children. He’s also tinkering with a wheelchair that doubles as a potty chair, something they’ve dubbed the “GoBro.”
“Sometimes, you ask yourself, ‘What on earth are we doing? What have we gotten ourselves into?’” Ally says. “But when you see videos of other little kids being able to be mobile and explore their world, it’s all worth it.”
To learn more about The Frog, call 573-544-0219 or visit www.frogmobilityllc.com. Donations to support the Moreland’s efforts can be made at www.gofundme.com/f/help-brody-get-kids-moving.