This Kid Invented A Device To Help His Friend Communicate After Being Struck By Lightning

"[It was something] that I should do, and I could do it, so why not?"

On June 29, 2013, 12-year-old Ethan Kadish's life changed forever. It was on this day that he was struck by lightning while teaching a group of peers to play Ultimate Frisbee at URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute near Indianapolis. 

News outlet WCPO reports the Ohio boy suffered a severe brain injury from the incident, and that his parents, Alexia and Scott, estimate their son spent as many as 289 days in the hospital. On Team Ethan, a page dedicated to Kadish's journey and recovery, his parents write that it has been two years since their son, now 15 years old, has been able to communicate. 

But a huge development has recently changed that: "He can now answer simple 'yes' and 'no' questions by blinking his eyelids," write his parents. 

To help him communicate even better, 8th grader Jacob Smilg decided to put his talent of building electronic devices to good use by programming a special video board for his friend. 


"Things like this happen sometimes..." Smilg tells WCPO in a video interview. "[It was something] that I should do, and I could do it, so why not?"

Smilg presented Kadish with the device on Thanksgiving, and his response was extremely positive. Kadish leans to the left to answer "yes," and to the right to answer "no."  

His mother told Smilg it's the most her son has communicated in a year and a half.

While Kadish's recent victories are certainly great news for him and his family, there is much work ahead. On Team Ethan, his parents write: "...he will still follow an extensive daily schedule of different therapies seven days per week — all designed to help him reestablish basic sensory connections within his brain. Ethan requires nursing care, receives all of his nutrition through a feeding tube, and needs a wheelchair and specialized vehicle to get around.  He is still unable to speak or move independently." 

The costs of his care exceed $100,000 annually, so to help raise money for his medical needs, the Kadish family are working with HelpHOPELive, "a nonprofit which engages communities in fundraising to help patients and families ease the financial burden of a medical crisis." 

You can help contribute to the Kadishs' fundraising campaign by making a tax-deductible donation.

Watch WCPO's video below to learn more about Smilg's invention for Kadish below:


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