When Ernest and Anneke discovered they were pregnant, the couple was overjoyed. However, what they didn’t know or expect was that on September 23, 1988 their emotions were in for a roller coaster of a ride.
On that day in late September their son, Matthew Standford Robison was born. Unfortunately due to a lack of oxygen during the pregnancy and other complications, Matthew was born severely disabled. But that didn’t stop Ernest and Anneke from loving their son to the fullest. He was born blind and paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors told the new parents that Matthew would probably only live for a few hours.
He lived for 10 and a half years.
And those 10 years were a good 10 years. His parents made sure to give him as normal of a life as possible.
They did everything from visiting animals
#ErnestBLOG: In the fall on Antelope Island, they have their buffalo roundup. They check the bison for disease and other…
To attending school
#ErnestBLOG: All the children liked Matthew at school. Some though, took a special affinity to him.They would eagerly…
And even taking pictures with Santa!
#ErnestBLOG: From 1995 through 1998 we have pictures of Matthew with Santa Clause at school. Here, the photographer got him to laugh with Santa Clause. Matthew was always a happy boy who loved people.
During Matthew’s short time on Earth, his parents realized how difficult it was for children and families of those who are disabled to afford necessary equipment in order to live a healthy and safe life. So, in 1993 the couple founded Ability Found, a nonprofit that provides assistive equipment to people and promotes “independence, productivity, safety, opportunity, and dignity.”
Throughout Matthew’s life he inspired many others and through Ability Found he helped dozens receive the help they deserved. And even years after he died on February 21, 1999 he is still inspiring people.
Shortly after Matthew was buried, his father decided to create a special gravestone for his son. With the help of a family member he created one for Matthew that shows a young boy jumping out of a wheelchair and reaching for the sky.
“Confined to the chair most of his young life, he is now free of earthly burdens,” reads an online memorial.
Since the sculpture was installed in 2000, hundreds of people both abled and disabled have visited Matthew’s grave in Salt Lake City Cemetery, seeking and finding inspiration from the young boy.