Editor’s Note: Little Hearts Big Smiles, which has been helping Clinton Countians for more than 10 years as a supportive outlet for families raising special needs children, will host its annual 5K walk or run on Saturday, May 20.
All proceeds will go to benefit Phase 4 of the Little Hearts Big Smiles Playground on Fife Avenue in Wilmington, which includes the addition of handi-accessible restrooms for children and families.
This year, Little Hearts Big Smiles is rallying participants to show support by joining one of six teams led by a captain: Andrew’s Army, Brei’s Brigade, Team Paxton and Irene, Gracie’s Squad, Team Braydyn, and Abby’s Army.
Today and for the next five days, the News Journal will profile the team captains. More information on the event follows the story.
WILMINGTON — Andrew Flanigan loves all sports, boating with his family, being in the community, traveling and being around his peers. He attends third grade at East End Elementary.
Andrew, 9, was diagnosed at 8 months old with a genetic disorder called Polymicrogyria (PMG). This condition affects the development of the brain by multiple microgyri creating excessive folding of the brain, leading to an abnormally thick cortex. This abnormality can affect one region of the brain or multiple regions.
PMG may be just one piece of a syndrome of developmental abnormalities, because children born with it may suffer from a wide spectrum of other problems, including global developmental disabilities, mild to severe mental retardation, motor dysfunctions including speech and swallowing problems, respiratory problems, and seizures.
Andrew also has Cerebral Palsy. He is G-tube fed and he has a Baclofen Pump to help with spasticity. He uses a manual wheelchair to get around as well as a speech-generated device to communicate.
He currently is enrolled in a Tech Group through Perlman Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, to learn better use of his device. In addition to Tech Group, Andrew attends physical therapy and occupational therapy at Cincinnati Children’s. He has a team of doctors that works with him at Cincinnati Children’s.
Andrew lives with his parents Michael and Chastity, his two brothers Alex, 16 and Austin, 14, and a Golden Doodle named Maddy. Andrew enjoys attending the Center for Courageous Kids, a special needs family camp, each year. His favorite things to do at camp are horseback riding, swimming, bowling and archery.
Andrew’s dad, Michael, is the treasurer for Little Hearts Big Smiles, along with serving on the planning committee. Andrew’s mom, Chastity, is co-chair of the fundraising committee for LHBS. Both parents have helped with the playground community builds.
Andrew was the first to try out the wheelchair swing and it’s his favorite thing at the park. He looks forward to the next piece of equipment that’s going in — a Sway Fun, which will enable him to play with his brothers and peers together.
Andrew will have an army of supporters at the LHBS 5K May 20 made up of friends, family and peers. Even his dog Maddy will be joining him, and you’re invited to join his team.
About the event
The Little Hearts Big Smiles 5K is a walk-or-run event with prizes going to the top-three finishers for both male and female.
All of the teams will have a specialty shirt made for the 5K; however, joining a team is not a requirement to participate. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 20 at 1400 Fife Ave. with the 5K starting at 9 a.m. Registration is open to sign up for the 5K.
Little Hearts Big Smiles thanks Vital Fitness for supporting the 5K.
To find out more about these events including registration information, and for more information about Little Heart Smiles Big Smiles, please visit www.littleheartsbigsmiles.org or find them on Facebook.