Hugs, Handshakes & High Fives

Florida School's Reading Day features Hugs, Handshakes and High Fives

St. Cecelia’s Catholic School’s first grade classroom got to partake in a special “Reading Day” featuring The Alexander Foundation’s Hugs, Handshakes and High Fives.  Mr. Dominic Prioli, a father of one of the first grade students, bought a copy for each child in the first grade class after reading the book with his own children and seeing the impact it made on them.  He gave each student the book prior to coming in to read the book with the children.


When Mr. Prioli was introduced by the teacher, he came jogging in the room giving the kids “high fives”, much like football and basketball players being introduced do.  He then went around the room to other kids and introduced himself while shaking their hands.  He made a lesson out of this handshaking by telling the students that their handshake couldn’t be too hard or too soft, but had to be “just right”.  He made a comparison to the porridge in the “Goldilocks” story, which the kids liked a lot.  He then hugged the teacher and thanked her for letting him into the classroom to read the book.  The class then began to read the book and Mr. Prioli asked some of the kids to read a page so that it was interactive.  During the story, he explained that children with disabilities (he used the examples:  wheelchair bound, crutches, etc.) liked to be a part of the group just like each of those kids like to “be liked” and encouraged them to high-five or shake hands with those kids so they feel included, too.


The class loved the book; they were very intent on listening, interacted wonderfully and thoroughly enjoyed having a guest in their classroom.   Through this experience, the kids were able to mimic the book and relate it to things that they like to see and/or do.  The whole experience was a great success!


Therapy Camp

The Alexander Foundation also succeeded in helping another family in the form of a request to help continue a child’s physical therapy for an inoperable brain tumor. The child had been attending therapy for a year at an equestrian camp, which provides physical, speech and animal therapy, but had to stop attending when his mother’s insurance was canceled.  The child has many disabilities due to the location of the tumor and requires consistent physical therapy which he gets from the camp.  The foundation was able to cover the cost of the therapy for another year.


Alex's Story

Alex was born in Orlando, Florida son of Richard and Terri Schon. He was born 6 weeks early and was afflicted with a type of craniosynostosis called Cloverleaf Syndrome or Kleeblattschadel . Alex is one of only 139 cases reported world wide. His doctor's prognosis, based on a sonogram at 34 weeks was very poor and his survival was not expected.

Cloverleaf Syndrome is a type of craniosynostosis in which there is premature closure of multiple or all bones of the skull. This condition causes the head to form a cloverleaf shape. Some deformities associated with Cloverleaf Syndrome include: larger than normal head, facial malformations, multiple breathing and feeding issues as well as hydrocephalus which is water on the brain. Alex has demonstrated some measure of all of these conditions.


Connor's Story

Connor Carlisle is one of the children that The Alexander Foundation has had the pleasure of helping.  Connor was born with a cloverleaf skull, Crouzan’s Syndrome, and a chiari malformation.  He relies on a ventilator to help him sleep, continues with 100-percent g-tube feeding, has trouble with his gait and balance, and received his first hearing aid this summer.  Through all of this, Connor continues to enjoy life like most 9 year-olds boys; he loves playing baseball and basketball and enjoys Legos, Star Wars, swimming and being a Cub Scout.  However, like many families with children afflicted with craniofacial issues, the medical bills can add up.  The foundation was able to donate to the hospital to benefit the Carlisle family’s medical expenses.


Our Book

Hugs, Handshakes and High Fives is a children’s book, geared toward children in grades K-3. It is the story of a super-child named Travis who has the uncanny ability to brighten people’s thoughts about how they look at and treat others – all by using hugs, handshakes and high fives.

The Alexander Foundation published this book in an effort to raise awareness about how people with disabilities are treated and to promote a more positive way to interact with all people. It is the hope of the foundation that this book can be distributed to all elementary school libraries, public libraries, doctor’s offices and other areas in local communities that will help spread the message. All of the proceeds from this book go directly back to The Alexander Foundation to help achieve its goals.