PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Five days a week, nearly an hour each way, the Reed family drives from Galesburg to Peoria. They head to Easterseals where five-year-old Odie has hours of therapy.

The Reed’s say it’s worth it to receive services at Easterseals and they appreciate the support and growth it’s given their family.

“I just want Odie to always know that no matter what, he’s amazing, and to be strong and that we think that he’s just awesome,” said Shera Reed, Odie’s mother.

In the last year and a half, J.P. and Shera Reed have seen unimaginable progress in their son Odie.

“It’s changed our lives. Completely,” said Shera.

Odie has autism and when he started at Easterseals, he was nonverbal.

“He had no way to express his needs, or frustrations, or anything like that,” said J.P. Reed, Odie’s father.

But now, and with the help of an iPad, Odie is connecting words like ‘blue car’ or ‘all done.’

“Every time we meet, he’s just knocking down all kinds of different goals that they have for him,” said J.P.

The Reed’s decided therapy at Easterseals was their best option when they felt Odie wasn’t getting proper attention in a traditional preschool.

“He has the support that he needs and the people that work with him know what he needs and know how to handle a meltdown. And so, that gave me reassurance,” said Shera.

And Odie’s progress has been monumental for the whole family.

“Just little things like being able to go out for dinner at a restaurant and sit there and make it through a half-hour meal, there was a long time when we never even made an attempt at it,” said J.P.

They say none of it would be possible without Easterseals.

“We are extremely grateful. We feel very blessed that we’ve found this place and all the people that are here that have helped us along the way,” said J.P.

The growth they’ve seen gives them hope for Odie’s bright future.

“My hopes are for Odie are to be included in everything, like normal, neurotypical children,” said Shera.

On March 6 and 7, WMBD and our sister station WYZZ will host a two-day Easterseals telethon.