Local Mother Recognized as Caregiver of the Month

Mary Williams has been the sole caretaker of her son, Brice, since her husband Gary, passed away 14 years ago. She was recently recognized by the Christopher Smith Foundation for her dedication to her son and her efforts to provide the best life possible for him.

Mary and her late husband moved to Las Vegas with Brice and his younger brother, Drew, in 1980, seeking opportunities for Brice, now 47, whose autism presented educational challenges in their home state of Tennessee.

“Brice is severely autistic – he was diagnosed at UCLA, and is on the level of a two-and-a-half-year-old,” Mary says. “He went to Helen J. Stewart School in Las Vegas, and then to Variety School. Once his time at Variety ran out he wanted to be placed somewhere, and we were so impressed with Opportunity Village we placed him there, and he’s been there ever since.”

Mary says that she doesn’t consider the 24/7 care and attention she provides for her son to be anything out of the ordinary, and certainly not something worthy of special recognition. “I drive Brice to work in the morning and he rides the bus home at night. I’ve always taken care of whatever he needs. I’m not doing anything extraordinary. When Gary was alive, every night before Brice went to bed, Gary would rub his head, and Brice would say ‘night-night Daddy,’ and that was a nightly ritual. You know, you love your kids, no matter what, you love your kids. And I think these kids have a hold on you like others don’t.”

Parents of children with disabilities, no matter what their ages, become the focal point of their parents’ lives, and Mary has lovingly accepted this with no regrets. “Your children become your life. They are your social life. Going to Opportunity Village every day, that’s my social life. Going to the grocery store, that’s my social life, going to the pharmacy, that’s my social life. Church is my social life. Everything you do is for your children, everything is about them. That’s just what happens. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”