When Matthew Chambers’ son Jude was just a couple of months old he began having frequent seizures—rare, uncontrollable seizures that mystified even neurologists. “We were constantly terrified,” says Matthew of he and his wife Jordana. A month after the seizures began, Jude was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called tuberous sclerosis complex.
“I sort of ran away, emotionally, because I didn’t know what to do,” says Matthew. “I had imagined life in a certain way and, in that moment, I realized that our whole lives had changed forever.”
What he didn’t expect was that it would inspire a new platform. After the diagnosis, Matthew—one of the brothers behind the lifestyle site Brothers & Craft—and Jordana began chasing down any information they could find about TSC, as it’s known, and life with a special needs child, but there wasn’t much out there at the time. About a year and a half after Jude was diagnosed, they saw a team of neurologists at a top hospital in Cincinnati. “We were so hopeless and devastated when we walked into that room,” says Matthew.
Hours later, they walked out with hope for the first time since the diagnosis: the doctors had prescribed a modified Atkins diet to help reduce the severity and frequency Judes’ seizures. “The idea was that you are starving your brain of one thing so it will reformat itself on another level,” says Matthew.
The only problem: This was not the way the Chambers family was used to cooking or eating. “I grew up in a family of eight kids and casserole was my mom’s specialty,” says Matthew. “So it’s not like any of our family recipes were going to work. It wasn’t even in our wheelhouse.”
The doctors in Cincinnati had given Matthew and Jordana a printout outlining the basics of the diet, which was laughably insufficient for a family about to upend the entire way they were eating. Jordana, the researcher and list-maker in the family, got to work investigating carbohydrate levels of foods and trying to connect with other families facing the same challenges.
Together, the Chambers family made progress, starting out with the foods their family loved, like pizza, and working backwards. “We thought, okay, we love cheese, we love pepperoni, what can we do about the dough?” They found a way with a cauliflower crust. “The first couple of times it was terrible, honestly, but we had to figure it out,” says Matthew.
The Chambers also made a key decision to switch their whole family to this way of eating. “We didn’t want Jude to feel different, we wanted him to know that he belonged at this table,” says Matthew. “So we all followed his diet when we were together.”
It was this experience, and years of similar ones in the following years, that inspired Chambers to start Springible, a platform for people with special needs and their families. There are more than 240 million family members, caregivers and supporters in the United States who are connected to people with special needs on a daily basis, and Springible is dedicated to providing support and inspiration to “close the gap between surviving and thriving,” says Matthew. Whether it’s a handicapped-accessible travel destination or a new recipe to try for dinner, Springible is the support system the Chambers family was looking for nearly a decade ago.
“What I hope my kids remember about our family dinners is that we tried,” says Matthew. “At some point all of our kids are going to have to process life growing up with a brother like Jude, and it will be hard for them in a way I can’t even comprehend. I want them to remember that it’s part of who we are, it’s where we all belong and that we tried our best every single day.”
See more of our day spent with Brothers & Craft and chef Katie Button below.