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A few swipes away from her first word

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 21, 2012 1:50 AM

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Raelin Rogers interacts with a learning program on her new IPad in her Goldsboro home as her mother, Jessica, watches.

Raelin Rogers slides a finger across the screen before the relentless tapping begins.

The little girl is still getting used to her newest learning tool.

She's only 3 years old.

But when she opens an application that pits her against an incomplete puzzle, she knows exactly what she needs to accomplish.

"She took to that one so fast," her mother, Jessica, said. "When she gets it right, it plays a little song, so she loves it."

And in just a few days, she already understands how to work the sophisticated gadget that has only been on the market since 2010.

"I think she's a lot smarter than people give her credit for, and something like this, it shows me and reminds me what she's capable of," Jessica said. "It's really overwhelming."

But Raelin's command of her new iPad isn't the only thing that amazes her mother.

The fact that she has the device in the first place -- that the Wayne County community rallied behind an Air Force family they had never met and donated more than $1,000 to ensure the girl could make developmental strides -- leaves the mother searching for words.

"Knowing that people actually care enough to go out of their way to help someone else is amazing to me. I didn't expect it at all," Jessica said. "Every day, you hear stories about people killing each other and bullying, and it's nice to be reminded that there are still good people out there. I'm so incredibly grateful."


Less than 24 hours after the Price family heard about Raelin's plight -- the rare chromosome disorder that has, to date, stunted her development and prevented her from uttering even one word -- they walked into the News-Argus with an iPad.

And others sent money to offset the cost of expensive applications designed to help children with learning disabilities.

One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she couldn't afford to donate, but felt compelled to do so anyway.

"I'm not really in the position to do this, but that little girl breaks my heart," she said.

And after Ginger Newcomb heard the news, she, too, felt the need to give.

"I turned to my husband, Steve, and said, 'We've got to do something,'" she said.

Local organizations joined the effort as well.

Like members of the Guardian Brotherhood, a motorcycle club made up of active duty and retired military, who said they wanted to step up for their comrade's daughter.

And the Downtown Goldsboro Lions Club who agreed that donating to this particular cause would exemplify their mission of supporting the county's children.

Some gave because they love the military -- because they wanted another opportunity to say "thank you" for the service and sacrifice of so many.

But others simply connected with Raelin.

Hearing their stories touches Jessica's heart.

So she vowed to hold close those random acts of kindness -- to never forget the many perfect strangers who will forever remain in the hearts of those family members who still dare to dream that Raelin will continue to prove the experts wrong.

"There are really no words I can say to tell people how grateful we really are," Jessica said. "Again, it's just overwhelming."