LONGMONT — Tears swell in Janette Ziegler’s eyes when she speaks about what The Tiny Tim Center has done for her youngest children, 5-year-old twin boys Scott and Bryan.
Tears of happiness flow when she talks about the opportunities and progress her boys, who almost died from a rare disease in the womb, have gained in the last two years.
Tears of trepidation when she thinks of them leaving for public elementary school next year.
“I heard of Tiny Tim most of my life. I knew they had a great reputation for working with children with disabilities,” she said.
Since 1956, The Tiny Tim Center has provided equal educational preschool experiences to all children ages 3-5 years, regardless of disabilities or special needs.
The developmental preschool is now selling tickets for its 22nd Annual Travel and Silent Auction on March 5.
Ziegler, a Wal-Mart store manager, and her husband, Robert, an owner of a Denver detail shop, both grew up in Longmont and appreciated its small-town pace for their three older children, now ages 14, 12 and 11.
But when the Zieglers learned that a rare disease called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, or TTTS, would complicate the health of their unborn twin boys, the couple was grateful to know The Tiny Tim Center could help their family.
TTTS is a disease of the placenta (or afterbirth) of identical twin fetuses caused by abnormal connecting blood vessels in the twins’ placenta, resulting in an unbalanced flow of blood from one twin to another.
The implications of this are serious for the survival and health of both twins. Rarely do both twins survive.
An ultrasound during Janette Ziegler’s eighth-month check-up revealed the boys’ disease. Doctors induced labor that day. The condition left both boys with health problems.
Scott has a tiny hole in his heart, which he will have to monitor as he grows older, but he remained virtually unscathed from the disease. Bryan, who was “basically born dead,” his mother said, has cerebral palsy.
Teedee Keister, executive director of Tiny Tim, said many families of children with disabilities are nervous about the transition from home care to those first days at Tiny Tim.
“She was reluctant at first, but (Janette) took that leap of faith,” Keister said.
Keister remembered once when the twins’ mother showed up at recess, Janette Ziegler couldn’t find Bryan seated anywhere on the grassy knoll, where she assumed he would be.
But he was among his peers on the playground, just like any other kid.
When the boys arrived at the school two years ago, the staff knew both would have speech and sensory challenges, but Bryan faced additional obstacles with cerebral palsy.
“We just didn’t know where the cognitive and thinking potential for Bryan was when he came here,” Keister said.
He couldn’t talk, feed himself or sit up when he first came to Tiny Tim. Last week, Bryan crawled to his mother for the first time, a moment that brought her to tears of joy.
“It’s those little things, those milestones” that her sons have accomplished while attending Tiny Tim, said Janette Ziegler.
The twins spent their first year at Tiny Tim in the same classroom. Now in separate classes, the boys are thriving as individuals: Scott is shy yet curious, while Bryan is “Mr. Personality,” saying hello and good-bye to his teachers and classmates.
“This is a wonderful place for them. I don’t think they would be here (at this stage) without Tiny Tim,” Janette Ziegler said.
The 22nd Annual Travel and Silent Auction for The Tiny Tim Center is March 5 at the Radisson Plaza Conference Center in Longmont.
The fund-raiser, with 100 percent of proceeds to benefit the center, begins at 6 p.m. with appetizers and dinner. The travel auction begins at 8:30 p.m., and the silent auction will run from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Travel auction items include getaways to Colorado Springs, Taos, Oregon, New York and more. Other auction items include a tailgate party for 100 people, sports jerseys and signed baseballs; a Weber gas grill donated by Ace Hardware will be raffled that night. Also, raffle tickets ($50 each) are still available for a custom motorcycle by RedHill Motorcycle Werx in Lyons.
Tickets for the event are $50 per person and are available at the Daily Times-Call, Twin Peaks Mall Information Booth or at Tiny Tim by calling 303-776-7417.
Melanie M. Sidwell can be reached at 303-684-5274, or by e-mail at