How it all began: Born with A Rare Disease (GCN & NCM)
In July 2008, a young boy named Erez Gaon entered the world. Erez was born with a rare disease and complex cognitive and physical disabilities. No one knew exactly what Erez had. Not his family and not the doctors. This was the beginning of an emotionally challenging journey for Erez’s family. It brought them together in many ways but it also proved to be a time of adjustment and adaption to a new way of living. The odds were against the Gaon Family and the doctors were uncertain about the odds. However, once stabilizing Erez’s condition, the family realized that they needed to focus on Erez’s quality of life rather than trying to fix him through ongoing and uncertain surgeries. Once they started to look at the glass half full and recognize his small accomplishments, positive strength, and glowing smile his beautiful soul came out, and also his abilities.
The Gaon Family in 2016 (Photographer Credit: Jonathan Bloom)
Accepting the unknown: Coping with a diagnosis
When Erez was born, his family was in a state of unknown. There were many questions to be asked and answered but unfortunately no one seemed to have the answers. Giant Congenital Nevi and Neurocotaneous Melanosis are thought to occur approximately once in every 500,000 births. The Gaon family had never heard of GCN or NCM, let alone met another family or person that had this rare condition.
Erez is the youngest of 3 children and the Gaon family credits much of Erez’s success and accomplishments from following his two older siblings. For example, Erez would see his siblings jumping on the family trampoline and he wanted to try. The standard size trampoline was not suitable for Erez’s physical state but his father thought to buy him a mini trampoline with a handle bar. A few days later Erez jumped on the trampoline with support at first, his smile bigger than ever. The small trampoline was a success and not only did it prove to be very fun for Erez but his family also found that it was a great way to improve his balance and gripping capabilities.
Other activities such as therapeutic horseback riding, swimming and Boccia ball also proved to have a positive impact on Erez’s health and wellbeing. Each new activity or adventure for Erez was supported by his parents and siblings using it both for quality time and fun.
With that being said, Erez’s siblings have also gone through an emotional roller coaster since the birth of their younger brother. They describe a mix of emotions while having a sibling with special needs. “In the beginning, it is fine to feel ashamed! We promise that in time, what others think and/or say will not bother you anymore.” Read their full 10 Tips for Special Needs Siblings here.
Erez with his siblings Asaf and Noa
yoocanfind.com: How the journey of one family led to the creation of yoocan
As Erez continued to grow and accomplish more things, although his medical challenges continued, the Gaon family seeked a place to share about Erez’s successes, connect with similar families and find ideas and solutions. They longed for a safe community of like-minded people that understood their situation and could offer ideas, advice and support. They searched and searched but everything they found was scattered, depressing and lacking the energy they so hoped for.
Seeing the situation and the need to help his brother and his nephew, Moshe, yoocan founder and CEO set out to create yoocanfind.com together with his brother Yoav (Erez's father). yoocan was created to be the leading empowerment source in the world for sharing stories, ideas, tips, products and relevant solutions to make the lives of people living with disabilities better and more inclusive. yoocan showcases incredible stories and everyday things that people with disabilities and their families are doing. yoocan focuses on what people can do, how they do it, and then shares it with the world.
The vision is to help people with disabilities find things they are looking for and discover what is out there through other people’s stories and experiences. Then they can be connected to products, services, and innovations from people and communities around the world.
Since launched in July 2016, yoocan has over 1,300 storytellers from over 100 countries. The popular Instagram page @yoocandoanything has thousands of followers sharing 1 story of a person living with a disability each day. The yoocan team is made up of experts in the field of disability and treats yoocan community members as if they are family.
The yoocan team- Moshe, Dror, Yoav, Stacey, Evgeny and Jessica (from left to right)
Join yoocan, spread the word, change the world
It is estimated that 1 billion people, or 18% of the world population is living with a disability. The likelihood that someone in your family, group of friends or extended network has a disability is staggeringly high. The goal of yoocan is to show the world the amazing things that people with disabilities are doing each and every day.
From mouth painting, to wheelchair dancing to bungee jumping, to running marathons, to becoming Paralympian athletes, this group of people are accomplishing so many incredible things. At the same time, they can find a service provider or innovation that can help them do it. They can also take advantage of the yoocan shop to find a relevant product they seek in a simple and easy search.
The goal of yoocan is to reach every person with a disability living around the world to share their story, connect with others and prove that you really can do anything! If you put your mind and heart to it, #yoocandoanything!
Erez Gaon wearing the Limited Edition 2017 yoocan do anything t-shirt