About The film

About the “Unseen” Documentary

The film follows Jess and Ryan Ronne, a blended family with 8 children, including Lucas, who has profound disabilities requiring total care. Their situation has gotten more and more challenging as Lucas gets older and stronger. With limited resources and support, caregiving takes a toll on their physical and mental health.

It’s a common story among parent caregivers: the isolation, uncertainty about the future, lack of options, and a never-ending daily to-do list means the role of caregiver overpowers nearly every other facet of life. Video diaries from diverse caregivers featured in the film illustrate this universality, while interviews with mental health experts and policy/legal advocates provide a broader view on the societal impacts.

Through the power of unfiltered, compelling human stories, Unseen cultivates compassion and tangible support for the caregivers in our communities.

Objectives of the Film

Give an unfiltered glimpse into the lives of parent caregivers and their real challenges.

Many caregivers feel invisible. Outsiders — and even family and friends — are clueless about caregivers’ experiences.

The isolation, depression, anxiety, anger, PTSD and exhaustion that many caregivers experience daily can lead to poor physical health, failed relationships, and substance abuse. In the most extreme cases, we see reports of suicide and abuse.

Shed light on how difficult it can be to get support and solutions.

People might assume that insurance companies, government programs, the education system and nonprofit organizations are adequately serving caregiving families.

Instead, it’s common for caregivers to encounter underfunded or non-existent public programs, and/or constant battles to access the resources they and their loved ones qualify for.

Establish strategic partnerships to enable real change.

By partnering with organizations, businesses, institutions, advocacy groups, and healthcare providers that support caregivers, we can:

  • Inform caregivers about available resources.
  • Educate individuals, organizations
    and providers about how they can
    make a positive impact.
  • Start conversations about
    organizational and systemic solutions.

Learn more about how we can partner…

Featuring…

The Ronne Family

Jess and Ryan Ronne started their caregiving journey over a decade ago, when each lost their spouse to a brain tumor. Finding love and support with each other in the midst of their grief, they became a blended family with 8 children, including Lucas, who has profound disabilities requiring around-the-clock care.

With a thriving blog, social media presence and two published books, Jess has an extensive network of caregivers and supporters who follow her personal journey and look to her for an honest, unapologetic portrayal of life as a parent caregiver. 

Jess is also founder and CEO of The Lucas Project, a nonprofit that funds respite days for caregivers, and host of the Coffee with Caregivers podcast, where she gives other caregivers a place to share their story.

Crystal POLK, LISW-CP 

Crystal Polk, LISW-CP is interested in empowering the family systems within the disability community. Crystal is a licensed independent clinical social worker in South Carolina. She works with the family system with a strengths-based and solution-focused approach to therapy.  She has a particular interest in the mental health of parents with children with disabilities also known as Parent Caregivers or commonly referred to as Special Needs Parents. Crystal advocates for Parent Caregivers by offering professional training that addresses the mental health impacts for Parent Caregivers of children with continuous high levels of needs. 

Crystal opened Better Tomorrow Therapy in Charleston, SC after finding a lack of mental health support for the family systems in the disability community. Crystal is writing a workbook to provide support for the Parent Caregiver mental health process. Crystal received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of Michigan in Dearborn, MI and a master’s degree in social work from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. She worked with a mental health agency in metro-Detroit providing in-home therapy services for families. Prior to doing mental health therapy she worked in child and adolescent health clinics doing prevention programs in the community as a Certified Prevention Specialist. She has also been a mental health therapist within the school system working with children and their families in South Carolina. During her personal time you can find her with the family riding bikes or enjoying the beautiful waters of the Carolinas. 

Get Involved

We need your support to expand the impact of the film! There are lots of ways you can help.