- A Salute to a Special Child
"He was all energy and all 'boy.' He progressed from not being able to stand by himself to walking, running, and playing soccer and baseball."
These simple words expressed by Monica Cioffi, MS, PT, director of PACT, describe a very special little boy, Eric Schlichting. At just 15 months old, Eric came to PACT in March of 1992, two months before PACT opened its doors on Condell's campus in the Condell Medical and Professional building at 755 S. Milwaukee Ave. And, on December 19, 1998, eight-year-old Eric, one of PACT's star pupils, passed away after suffering through a final seizure.
Eric, who was born prematurely and with cerebral palsy, exemplified what the PACT program is all about. When he first came to the program, one side of his little body was extremely weak. The therapists worked with him so that he would gain control of his muscles. The many years of therapy enabled Eric to progress from not being able to stand by himself to walking, running, and even playing soccer and baseball. Yet, according to Cioffi, Eric showed an amazing sensitivity to all the other children at PACT. He would approach the most medically fragile and disabled child, saying, "Hi! I'm Eric."
"Eric was one of the children who first prompted my interest in the construction of an accessible playground at PACT," said Cioffi. "Play is the work of the child and Eric was among the most playful children I have ever met. He touched the lives of many people. His success here was second only to his love for his family, friends, and life itself."
In memory of Eric, a fundraising campaign was established by Eric's family and friends to fund construction of a special playground, and in 1999 the playground, named Eric's Place, was completed. Filled with a variety of play toys, including talk tubes, a peek-a-boo-slide, megarock climber, ramps, a log roll and more, Eric's Place allows the children of PACT to play outside together as a part of their therapy.