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Benefit for 9-year-old ‘Super’ Teci Avila will fund next step of gradual improvement

Teci tickets available for November 3 event at Kasey’s Banquet Hall

Above: Super Teci is pictured with her family on her 9th birthday. (Photo provided)

LANSING, Ill. (October 21, 2023) – After her accident in 2017, the only movements 3-year-old Teresa “Teci” Avila could make were a result of involuntary muscle spasms. Rigid as a board, her muscles were so tight that in order to sit properly, she needed to be strapped down. Her eyes couldn’t focus or move to track people or objects. The noises she made weren’t an attempt to communicate, only random movement of her vocal muscles.

Now 9, Teci can relax her body. She can smile and laugh. She can focus and move her eyes to understand and communicate. She can sit upright with help, and continues to add to her list of physical achievements through a variety of therapies. She also attends ECHO School in South Holland.

Teci’s parents Elizabeth and Guillermo Avila say the single greatest factor in Teci’s improvement has been stem cell treatments.

The couple hopes a benefit on November 3 will raise the money they need for an extended trip to Arizona for “Super Teci” to receive her next treatments.

Teci’s accident and recovery

“Super Teci” is a nickname that can’t begin to capture the remarkable journey of young Teresa Avila, who at age three choked while eating a grape and was unresponsive for 19 minutes before Lansing paramedics were able to restore her heartbeat. The miracle revival left Teci totally paralyzed.

Super Teci
Teci, pictured shortly after her choking accident in 2017. The 3-year-old was stiff and rigid at the time, only able to stare forward, and unable to communicate. (Photo provided)

“It’s a brain injury, so it affects everything,” said Liz Avila. “Your brain tells you everything to do. When your body doesn’t have that connection with your brain, your body does what it wants. … Teci didn’t have any control over her body before. We couldn’t even bend her before.”

Six months after Teci’s accident, the Avilas went to New Orleans for hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

“It was two days before we left New Orleans, and I was like, ‘Was this worth it? Was all this money worth it?'” Avila said. “But every time I question myself, God shows up. She gave her first smile over there two days before we left. It had been six months since we’d seen that. I knew that was God.”

Stem cell treatments

A little over a year later, the Avilas brought Teci to Arizona for a stem cell treatment in 2021. That treatment made the biggest difference in Teci’s well-being to date.

“On the way there, we had to spend an extra night in New Mexico, because we couldn’t get her body to relax. She was just spasming so much. That’s something we dealt with three to four times a week for the first few years,” Avila said.

After the treatment, the Avilas noticed an immediate difference.

“On the way back from the treatment, I’m not joking, she was in her chair for four hours. She didn’t spasm at all. Not one time,” Avila said. “And it lasted. She doesn’t have that problem anymore. … Now the spasms are only triggered if she’s sick.”

Super Teci
The Avila’s family dog Bruno is a staunch Super Teci supporter. (Photo provided)

The Avilas brought Teci back to Arizona for a second treatment in late 2021, another in the fall of 2022, and is planning a fourth trip, which will take place in mid-November of this year.

“These treatments are important because we need to maintain what we’ve gained. We’re worried that if we stop them, she’ll regress. And we think she will because we’ve been told that as she gets older, the treatments won’t last as long.” Avila said. “If we were not to take her at all, we feel like a lot of the gains with her body, we would lose them. I don’t want to get to that point.”

Super Teci
The Lansing Fire Department (left) and Police Department (right) stopped to wish Teci a happy 9th birthday. (Photo provided)

Teci’s steady, if not visible, improvement

It’s hard to communicate to people outside of their own family exactly how much Teci has improved, Avila said. She wonders if many people that have seen Teci throughout the years think because she looks the same — and she still can’t walk or talk — that she hasn’t improved much.

“She smiles, she laughs, she tries to talk. She has a different cry to let us know that something’s wrong,” Avila said. “Stem cell [treatment] has changed her in so many positive ways. … There’s so much more than just walking or talking. We’ve met so many families with similar stories to ours. But some of them, I feel so bad for them, because their kids are how Teci used to be — and they still are that way.”

One tangible example of Teci’s improvement is her ability to use a tablet that senses the movement of her eyes. As she looks at different points on the screen, the tablet’s camera tracks her eyes, creating an effect similar to a computer mouse moving across a screen. Liz or Guillermo can pull up the tablet and ask Teci yes or no answers. If her answer is yes, she can look up to the “Yes” box. The tablet will register her eye movements and the word “yes” is said by an automated voice. The tablet also has games for Teci to exercise her eyes and brain.

The video below shows examples of Teci’s improvement. She moves her head and eyes, uses her tablet to communicate, and laughs:

Blessed to be a blessing

“I sit back and I say, ‘We are blessed,'” Avila said. “People look at us and they might think, ‘Oh, I feel so bad for them.’ Don’t. We are so blessed.”

Avila believes one her family’s purposes in life is to warn others about choking hazards such as grapes and other everyday foods and items.

“I feel like our mission is bigger than just going treatment to treatment. A lot of our mission is getting the word out there. Choking can happen. Spreading that awareness is part of our mission,” Avila said.

Benefit on November 3

The benefit planned on Friday, November 3 will take place at Kasey’s Banquet Hall, and run from 5 – 11 p.m. The evening will include dinner, a cash bar, raffles, a live DJ, and a special character appearance.

The family’s goal is to raise $15,000 to fund their trip to Arizona, which will include the next stem cell treatment and a few weeks of hyperbaric oxygen chamber sessions.

Tickets are $30, and $15 for kids 10 and under. Tickets should be purchased as soon as possible by contacting Liz Avila at [email protected] or at 708-674-0877.

“We’re so thankful to everyone that has shown us love and support throughout the years. Without them, we wouldn’t have made it to any of Teci’s treatments,” Avila said.

Follow Super Teci’s journey on Facebook.


Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.


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