Inspiring Stories

Brain injury won't keep this budding actor from his Broadway dream.
Greg Kenney

Greg had been training for weeks for the 2015 Rock ‘N’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon and seemed in perfect health. But when Greg was within a few hundred feet of the finish line, he went into cardiac arrest and collapsed.

Running a few paces ahead of him in the race was Adrianna Amarillo, a medical resident. When she heard someone call for medical help, she turned around, ran to Greg, and performed CPR until a medical team arrived to airlift him to the hospital. But because of the prolonged lack of oxygen to his brain, Greg sustained a severe brain injury.

Later that evening, Amarillo went to work and saw Greg in her ICU. Greg’s mother, Stephanie Watson, says that Amarillo had found an angel pendant on the road a few months earlier. After someone said “you must be his guardian angel,” she remembered the pendant and gave it to Greg.

From Bangladesh to Baltimore, Sariyya learns to 'speak' through eye gaze system.
Sariyya smiling

On the outskirts of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, you can hear the laughter and voices of schoolchildren bubbling through the open windows. One child, 7-year-old Sariyya, is quiet. Though no sound leaves her lips, she is communicating with her teacher. In front of her, on the tray of her wheelchair, lies a book of pictures. Sariyya’s gaze shifts from her teacher to the book before her, and back to her teacher. The teacher looks at the image of the cup in the book, and asks, “Sariyya, are you thirsty?” Sariyya’s gaze moves to the word “yes.”

It is a simple, yet ingenious eye-gaze communication system designed specifically for Sariyya by a speech-language pathologist at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Ready to Launch
Kylie

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) took away my independence. The disorder left me partially paralyzed and robbed me of my ability to walk, talk, and even eat. But thanks to Kennedy Krieger’s International Center for Spinal Cord Injury, I got my independence—and my lifelong dreams—back.

In January 2014, I became an inpatient at Kennedy Krieger. From the start, a team of supportive doctors, nurses, and therapists helped me come up with treatment goals. I was scared at first.

Christian's family searched for a diagnosis for years.  They finally found answers—and treatment—at Kennedy Krieger Institute. 
Christian

Multiple specialists spent eight years seeking a diagnosis for Christian Meese, ordering brain MRIs, muscle biopsies, blood tests, and sleep studies. When Christian and his family turned to the Neurology and Neurogenetics Program at Kennedy Krieger, experts found an answer through whole exome sequencing—a technique that analyzes thousands of genes all at once with a single test.

Knowing the cause of Christian’s developmental disability means doctors can offer targeted treatment for his individual needs. 

Short-term intensive therapy jumpstarts Anthony's progress toward independence.
Anthony Olvera

Four-year-old Anthony Olvera was born with a rare genetic disorder called Warburg micro syndrome. Characterized by cognitive, visual, and physical impairment, as well as cerebral palsy, Anthony’s condition meant that his vision was impaired, and he was unable to walk, sit up by himself, or communicate. The family knew the challenges he faced all too well—Anthony’s older brother Giovanni, 15, was born with the same condition.

So when the opportunity arose for early intervention for Anthony, the family wholeheartedly embraced it. 

Life Lessons
Francisco Oller

In life, we face many challenges that we have no control over.

I was born with a rare genetic disease, Pelizaeus-Merzbacher (PMD), that affects my motor skills. In my youth, I was bullied and rejected in school because of my disability.

Innovative therapies helped Kevin DiLegge become the athlete he knew he could be
Kevin DiLegge Marathon

Kevin DiLegge is a competitor. According to his mother, Mary, her son likes to do just about anything except sit at home. Now 26, Kevin was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant. Thanks to innovative physical therapy interventions at Kennedy Krieger Institute, Kevin learned to walk for the first time with a gait trainer and began riding a bike on his own last year.

Helping families affected by traumatic experiences
Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress

In the bustling urban center of Baltimore, the Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress at Kennedy Krieger Institute offers a bright, child-friendly oasis for families and children struggling with the effects of traumatic experiences.

Have Dreams, Discipline & Fun
Marc Russo

Imagine going through your day and only hearing part of what your friends and teachers say. How would you feel if you missed the punch line to the joke? Or imagine someone calling your name in a crowded cafeteria but not knowing where that sound came from.

Two to three percent of the population doesn’t have to imagine these situations, because they live them. They have auditory processing disorder (APD), a disorder that occurs when the ears and brain don’t fully coordinate. Someone with APD has trouble understanding directions, often cannot hear himself, and may have speech difficulties. He might smile and nod but miss out on the joke, or he might not respond when you call his name.

Activity-based restorative therapies got Penelope back on her feet after a spinal cord injury
Penelope Miller

About a week after Penelope Miller was born, in July 2012, her parents noticed her leg movement was more frog-like than her older brother’s was when he was a baby, and she didn’t have a strong kick. A visit to the doctor determined that everything was fine. Yet her parents, Tim and Heather, remained concerned. The family continued to visit doctors, and Penelope seemed to get stronger.

Until March of 2013. At the beginning of the month, Penelope was in such pain, particularly at night, that she writhed in her crib. Doctors diagnosed extreme constipation. Tim noticed thereafter that his daughter wasn’t standing as well, but thought she was dehydrated. By mid-month, she was completely paralyzed from the waist down. She was eight months old.

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