HOUSTON—Eric and Hope Montgomery became the proud parents of Lauren, Londyn and Lakin five years ago.
"Our girls were spontaneous natural-born triplets," said Hope Collins Montgomery.
But by the time Lakin turned two, Eric and Hope noticed something was wrong.
"All of a sudden she started losing eye contact. She stopped speaking," Hope said.
A trip to the doctor revealed that Lakin was autistic. Autism is an incurable condition that affects communication, behavior and thinking patterns. Autism is more common in children than cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.
It didn’t take long before Eric and Hope discovered that all of their daughters have autism.
"In our research we have not found another set of triplets that are identical that have autism," Hope Montgomery said. The Montgomerys said they discovered a lack of support and awareness when it comes to treatments, therapies and especially in the public school system.
A friend, Darla Farmer, saw what they were going through, rallied other friends and started Blessed Be Hope for Three, a foundation to help the Montgomerys and other Ft. Bend County families with autistic children. They have held a fundraising luncheon and published a calendar featuring autistic kids.
"Darla Farmer, sister friend, you are phenomenal," said an emotional Hope Montgomery as she spoke to attendees at the luncheon in August.
Farmer said the new Blessed Be Hope for Three Foundation hopes, in the future, to help with things like specialized school tuition. The Montgomery triplets’ school in Rosenberg costs $5,000 per child, per month.
Presently, a grant and insurance help Eric and Hope with the costs of sending their children to Texana School. The Montgomerys said the school also allows parents to pay based on income.
In addition to starting the foundation, the couple’s friends also recently started a home makeover project for the Montgomerys, replacing flooring and other furnishings.
"My heart overflows. My friends have definitely stepped up to the plate," Hope said.
Working with the foundation started by their friend Darla Farmer, the Montgomerys said they hope to help others, as they have been helped.
"Fifteen years from now, everybody’s going to look at the example and say, ‘Wow, you know, these were the forbearers for something beautiful,’ " said Eric Wann Montgomery, the triplets’ father.
"We want this foundation to give hope to as many families as possible, as many families as possible," Hope said.
To donate, buy a calendar or volunteer for Blessed Be Hope for Three go to: hopeforthree.org or call 713-858-7965. To learn more about autism and resources available to parents, visit: autismspeaks.org.