Mahoning Valley businessman Tom Zidian has interacted with his share of notable people throughout his career. But just as memorable to him as his visits with President Barack Obama, NFL’s Dan Marino and celebrity chef Guy Fieri will be the afternoon he spent with Ty Smith, 12, of East Palestine.
Ty is an Akron Children’s Hospital patient who recently graduated from an intense neurobiological therapy program. Within the past year Ty was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and Tourette Syndrome.
Ty graduates from intense tic-management therapy
He’s being treated, in part, by pediatric psychologist Dr. Katrina Lindsay, whose 8-week CBIT program is helping Ty to manage his tics, which commonly accompany these diagnoses. CBIT stands for Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics.
“Ty and his family worked very hard to identify his tic-related triggers and develop a ‘competing response,’ or tic resolution strategy, in order to become refocused,” Dr. Lindsay said.
Amanda Smith, Ty’s mother, noted she and her husband were seeking help for Ty as he entered junior high, an age group, she said, that could be particularly cruel with teasing.
“We wanted to help him find something that could help him try and control his tics,” she said. “It’s not medicine, but rather they help you understand your brain and when and where the twitches happen. When you understand why your body wants to do twitches you can then recognize, control, diminish or stop them.”
She said Dr. Lindsay gave them homework in-between weekly sessions to use the techniques they were taught to try and cope with the twitches.
“To be a ‘CBIT graduate’ means that Ty successfully completed the program in its entirety, a major accomplishment!” Dr. Lindsay said. “Our CBIT graduates are known and celebrated around our division and our hospital, with even our front desk staff cheering and celebrating when a CBIT patient has graduated at their last checkout.”
Pediatric psychologist learns of Ty’s passion for baking
Through the course of his treatment, Ty divulged to Dr. Lindsay that he had a passion for baking. Upon graduation, Dr. Lindsay made a few phone calls and, through help from the hospital’s development department, was able to arrange for a VIP behind-the-scenes tour of a Youngstown-area restaurant, Aqua Pazzo, and food manufacturing facility, Summer Garden, owned by Zidian.
Zidian and his team rolled out the red carpet for Ty’s entire family. He arranged for a one-on-one dessert-making experience with the restaurant’s pastry chef. He introduced Ty to his executive chef, R&D chef and line cooks. And he took them through his entire restaurant and fed everyone whatever they wanted to eat.
He took the group next door, as well, where his 100,000-plus square foot manufacturing facility makes and bottles more than 20 different condiments and sauces for brands like Gia Russa, Guy Fieri, G Hughes and more.
Zidian, who’s used Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley’s services for his own children, recently took a tour of the Beeghly campus and left quite impressed.
Donor/businessman rolls out the red carpet for Ty and his family
“When I heard about Ty and his passion for cooking and baking, I wanted to reach out and do anything I could,” Zidian said. “It was great seeing the excitement in his face. He was truly enjoying himself. Anything I can do to help Akron Children’s I love doing it.”
Amanda Smith was impressed with the whole experience, too, and was thrilled to see her son get so much attention.
“It’s amazing how the doctors and staff at Akron Children’s can see so many children every day, yet they take the time and make a connection with someone like Ty and arrange this special day for us,” she said.
Ty might even use this experience as a springboard to a career in the food industry.
“I can see maybe going to culinary school and becoming a baker,” he said. “My favorite part from today was making the cookies.”