Hi! My name is Braden… I am seven years old, and I have a pretty cool story if you’d like to read about me!
I was born in March of 2005, and even before I was born, my parent’s knew that I had so many tough things ahead of me. I was born with Spina Bifida, as well as Hydrocephalus and an Arnold Chiari II malformation. In other words, things were really complicated from the start! On top of all that, the doctor’s told my Mom and Dad that I probably wouldn’t even survive birth, and even if I did that I would have very little use of my lower body, and I’d have very little cognitive ability.
Boy were they wrong! I like proving the docs wrong whenever I can, and I have had many chances to do just that. In fact, I was so strong the day I was born, that I had my very first surgery when I was only a few hours old! Then my second one the very next day! Even though I am only seven years old, I have already had fifteen surgeries. They have worked on so many parts of my body, that my Mom and Dad call me Superman, because I am a boy of steel!
Ever since the day I was born, I have been a Riley Kid. That means that Riley Hospital is very special to me and my family, because I spend so much time there. All of my surgeries except one has been there, and I am usually there at least twice a week for therapy. As a matter of fact, I spend so much time there that I have made more friends than you could imagine! It’s not just the doctors I like so much, but the nurses, Child Life specialists, receptionists, and even the people that help keep Riley clean! One of my favorite things to do whenever I am at Riley is to visit the Safety Store… I was even the very first kid to be in the Safety Store after they remodeled it! I also love when I am wheeling through the halls and I see so many people I know, and I have to say hi to every one of them! It makes it hard to get to my appointments some times.
I love the new tower in the hospital, but one of the last surgeries I had to stay there for 37 days! Of course, my Mom and Dad tell me it’s not so fun being at Riley so long, but I didn’t want to go home at all! I like staying there because I have so many visitors, and I get room service!
When I’m not at Riley, I still love to do anything I can that is for Riley! One of my very favorite things is to go to Dance Marathons! Dance Marathons are great big parties to raise money for Riley Hospital. They have them at colleges and high schools! My very first one, was at Ball State University. I had so much fun that night, and I will never forget it! My parent’s came with me to share our Riley story, and they planned on only staying for a little bit, not the whole 12 hour marathon. But, as usual, I had other ideas! I had a blast with all the college kids playing with me, and my team (the orange one) gave me a great big bag of goodies, and followed me around all night! I never got tired, even near the end which was at 3:00 the next morning! They had a rave at the end where they turned off the lights, passed out glow sticks, and turned up the music really loud… IT WAS FUN!!! I didn’t want to leave at the end when they announced the total of how much they raised for Riley, but my Mom and Dad made me! When I went back to my kindergarten class at school on Monday, I loved telling my teacher about all my new college friends, and the college rave I went to… she kind of looked at me funny when I said that!
Since my first one, I have been to lots of Dance Marathons. They have them all over the place. I have been to Dance Marathons at Ball State, Butler, Purdue, Indiana University, UIndy, IUPUI, Indiana State, St. Mary’s, and one of my other favorites, Franklin Community High School with my buddy Evan! In fact, I like Dance Marathons so much and we go to so many, that my Mom and Dad like to tell people that Dance Marathon is my sport!
During my last stay at Riley, my Mom brought in a beach ball for me to play with. I had so much fun hitting it all over the room, and it didn’t hurt anything! I would play with anyone who would hit the ball with me. It was so much fun, my Dad went to the store and got me a few more, so I could have lots of them in my room to play with. I would even have the doctors and nurses playing with me when they were supposed to be working! I would throw the ball at them when they came in the room, and I even tried to throw it at them when they went by my room in the hallway!
I had so much fun with my beach balls! One day, I saw one of the other patients on my unit that would pass by my room all the time, and sometimes she would stop and chat with me. I told my Mom that I wanted to give her one of my beach balls. The nurses were able to clean the ball and give it to her, so she could have fun too! I like doing that so much that I wanted to give one to the little boy in the room next to mine too. Then, I made my dad go to the store and buy lots more beach balls to give to the other kids on my unit at Riley!
When I finally got home after my surgery, we had a big party at my house. I invited everyone that came to visit me when I was in the hospital… but I told them they had to bring me beach balls so I could donate them to Riley Hospital for all the other kids! I wasn’t sure if it would work, but it did and we gathered up almost 150 beach balls for Riley! I had so much fun doing that, that I told my Mom and Dad I wanted to do it again and again, so they are helping me get more beach balls to donate. I can’t wait!!!