Finley has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, which causes “especially high and constant ‘tightness’ and ‘stiffness’ in the muscles of the lower extremities of the human body,” Smallwood says on her website. Finley uses a walker, and recently underwent a costly surgery to reduce spasticity and help her walk.
Smallwood told The Huffington Post she originally started her blog, fifiandmo.com, because she felt isolated as a new special needs mom. Her mission has since blossomed into an opportunity to spread awareness, connect with families that have similar stories and raise funds to alleviate the costs associated with Finley’s therapies and surgeries. Smallwood predicts on her website that Finley will need “dozens” of surgeries before she turns 15.
Finley and her mom are often photographed in adorable T-shirt outfits, and it’s no coincidence: partnering with small shops that make shirts is one way they’ve built their audience to nearly 60,000 Instagram followers. The brands share images of Smallwood and Finley wearing their shirts, often prompting other mothers reach out to Smallwood to share their stories.
“They would DM me and say ‘My kid has a walker, too,’” she said. “So it became a great passion for me to get our pictures shared, and it worked amazingly.”
These two are spreading awareness, boosting small businesses, and doing it all in style. But while Smallwood told The Huffington Post they love wearing mommy-and-me T-shirts, Finley’s favorite outfit is “either pajamas, or anything with a tutu!”
By Jamie Feldman