Meet Our StarKid Ambassadors
Aiden was only 5-months-old when his parents thought he has a severe case of pneumonia. Their worst fears were realized when they heard words that no parent ever wants to hear —your son has cancer. Aiden was diagnosed with stage 4 embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer seen most often in children. He then began an extraordinary journey for such a young baby — three weeks in the PICU at Inova Children’s Hospital, 54 weeks of both inpatient and outpatient chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Now cancer-free since 2011, 9-year-old Aiden enjoys activities typical of kids his age. He loves acting and reading and plays both baseball and flag football, and art, music and science are some of his favorite subjects at school. His parents recognize that each day Aiden has is a gift, and they are extremely grateful. According to his mom Leslie, “We gained so much perspective from Aiden’s cancer journey. We know what matters in life and live with that in mind.”
Before Isa was born, physicians detected that Isa would enter this world with a complex congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Mom Lorean was admitted to the high risk pregnancy unit at Inova Women’s Hospital, and when Isa was born, her life began under the care of the pediatric cardiologists at Inova Children’s Hospital. She has undergone three open heart surgeries at Inova Children’s Hospital that help her live a healthy and normal life. Today, Isa is almost 6-years-old, and despite the adversity and challenges she has faced during her short life, she has an infectious personality and always has a huge smile on her face. Isa loves baseball, putt putt, baby dolls, cats, playing pretend and being the Mom, singing and doing activities with her Girl Scout Daisy Scout troop. “My family is very grateful to everyone at Inova Children’s for all that they have done to help Isa, really all of us,” Lorean said. “They are a part of our family now.”
When Carmen was born at 34 weeks gestation, her family knew she had come early for a reason, but no-one could imagine what it was. After four days in the Inova Children’s Hospital NICU, her doctors confirmed that Carmen had serious health problems, including a heart condition, undeveloped parts of her brain, and unique genetic anomalies never seen before. Her parents and extended family began a journey that resulted in Carmen spending most of her life in the intensive care units at Inova Children’s. The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit became her home. After great efforts, Carmen was able to go home at six and a half months old where she began to truly thrive. At seven and a half months, Carmen’s health took an unexpected turn that brought her back to Inova Children’s where she passed with both her immediate family and PICU family. It was apparent to all who knew her that Carmen came earlier so that she could be with her loving parents for as long as possible and impact both Inova Children’s Hospital and her community forever. Carmen’s family is grateful for the care she received at Inova Children’s. According to mom Sydney, “I couldn’t prove that her life was worth saving but her team treated her life with positivity and purpose and gave her a chance at a beautiful life. They valued her and never gave up.”
When Joe was born at 28 weeks, he weighed 1 ½ pounds and was only 12 inches long. The physicians at Inova Children’s Hospital later told his parents that at that time, they gave him a 50/50 chance of survival. But Joe was a born fighter, determined to beat the odds. Joe spent 3 ½ months in the NICU, encountering the bumps that most preemies encounter as they continue to grow. But the nurses and doctors in the Inova Children’s NICU – the angels, as his Dad Denny now calls them – worked tirelessly to save Joe’s life. “I made connections with these people so quickly. I’m still close with the doctors and nurses. I can never say thank you enough,” Denny said. Today, they have plenty of opportunities to say thank you, as his doctors and nurses are often in the stands cheering at 12-year-old Joe’s baseball and basketball games.
StarKid 5K and Family Fun Run
Inova’s annual StarKid 5K and Family Fun Run benefits the world-class Inova Children’s Hospital, providing life-saving care in a child-friendly environment close to home.