Feature Stories

by Laura Thornton • June 19, 2018
Over the past three decades, Dr. Goldstein has guided Kennedy Krieger with visionary leadership and steadfast commitment to its children and families.
Dr. Goldstein, with BGE CEO Calvin Butler Jr., cuts the ribbon to open a new playground at the Fairmount campus.

It’s 1988, and Dr. Gary W. Goldstein, Kennedy Krieger Institute’s new president and CEO, is taking a walk through the four floors of the Institute’s only building. He wants to get to know the place a little better.

He quickly meets up with an 8-year-old boy walking away from his mom and physical therapist. The boy is smiling, excited and very happy. His mom and therapist are crying.

“What’s happening?” Dr. Goldstein asks.

“This is the first time my son has ever walked,” the boy’s mom answers through tears of joy.

by Laura Thornton • June 19, 2018
Julia and her family travel all the way from the west coast of Canada so Julia can receive therapy at Kennedy Krieger.
Julia participates in robotic-assisted gait rehabilitation using the Institute's G-EO System.

With the strength of a Paralympian, Julia, 4, wheels herself into the therapy gym at Kennedy Krieger Institute. Her smile is contagious; her sense of humor, refreshingly quirky. Her spirit is indefatigable. Her strong arms take her wherever she wants to go in her pint-sized wheelchair, which is perfect for quick maneuvering.

by Laura Thornton • June 19, 2018
Together, doctors and family members are helping Tashamere live a life full of laughter, good grades, dancing and excitement for the future.
Kennedy Krieger patient Tashamere.

Meeting Tashamere, you’d never guess she’s been admitted to the hospital more than two dozen times. At 13, she’s a lively, vivacious teenager who loves gymnastics and modern dance and has the biggest smile.

But every year or two, she gets an MRI scan done of her brain, and once a month, she misses half a day of school to receive a vital blood transfusion. Her mom, Inetta, takes her to The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she’s transfused with about two to three units of blood.

Tashamere has sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder that, untreated, can cause crises of intense pain and lead to stroke. She also has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which can frequently co-occur with sickle cell disease, explains Dr. Eboni Lance, Tashamere’s neurologist and medical director of Kennedy Krieger Institute’s interdisciplinary Sickle Cell Neurodevelopmental Clinic.

by Laura Thornton • November 28, 2017
Ninth-grader Mikey, who has autism, thrives on the individualized educational programming his Kennedy Krieger teachers provide.
Mikey stands outside Kennedy Krieger High School, with a black backpack on his back.

Mikey loves keeping busy. He loves music videos and video games. He loves the rides at amusement parks and riding on airplanes. He loves to dance, and he’s fascinated by news tickers. He reads every word as it slides across the bottom of the television screen.

He’s quick, too. Every morning, when he gets to his classroom at Kennedy Krieger High School, he pulls out his binder and gets right to work, sometimes completing activities before his teachers have the next ones ready.

He thrives on routine, and on checking off tasks as he finishes them. He’s very curious: He loves walking through the school, seeing what everyone is up to as he heads down locker-filled hallways to the library, cafeteria or school store.

And he takes pride in himself and in his work. When another student receives praise for an activity or task, Mikey—not to be outdone—quickly finishes the same task with intentional perfection. The praise he receives encourages him to put his best foot forward as he starts his next task.

It’s the perfect school environment for Mikey, but it’s not how things started out.

by Laura Thornton • November 28, 2017
After spinal surgery followed by a year of intense physical therapy, Nathaniel is walking better than ever.
Nathaniel walks with his mom, Jill, in Kennedy Krieger’s therapeutic garden.

This past summer, 8-year-old Nathaniel went to the beach. Running along the surf, kicking up sand and splashing in the water, Nathaniel would have seemed,
to a passing stranger, like any other kid having fun.

But it wasn’t an ordinary beach trip. For the first time, Nathaniel was playing in the water without having to be extra careful not to fall down.

Nathaniel has cerebral palsy. The condition affects his legs and feet, making them stiff. Up until a special surgery he had a little more than a year ago, he would occasionally have difficulty straightening out his legs; his ankles, especially the left one, didn’t always bend. Without leg braces, he’d walk on tip-toe—a little on his right, more so on his left, with his left foot often turned in. He couldn’t run as fast as his friends.

by Laura Thornton • November 28, 2017
Karam and his parents moved almost halfway around the world so he could receive medical care at Kennedy Krieger.
At Kennedy Krieger’s outpatient center, physical therapist Brittany Hornby helps Karam walk with the aid of a walker.

Karam loves school, swimming and his bright green iPad.

It’s a captivating device for the 6-year-old, who understands English and Arabic but can only speak a few words of each. He uses his iPad to watch educational cartoons and listen to songs like “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”

Karam’s parents, Dana and Ousama, use the iPad to motivate their son to do his therapy. One day last August, as Karam, gripping the handles of a small walker, slowly made his way across a therapy gym at Kennedy Krieger Institute, his dad sat on a rolling stool a few feet away, holding up Karam’s treasured possession and scooting backward as Karam got ever closer to the target.

AFM took away Sebastian’s ability to walk, but he’s fighting back—superhero-style—one step at a time.

AFM took away Sebastian’s ability to walk, but he’s fighting back—superhero-style—one step at a time.

Ask Sebastian what he wants to be when he grows up, and he’ll tell you: “A warrior!”

It’s a fitting aspiration for a boy named after the patron saint of soldiers. But Sebastian is already a warrior. He fights every day to walk, gain strength, redevelop motor skills, and get back to the business of being a 6-year-old after developing acute flaccid myelitis (also known as AFM) last August.

How a team of specialists—and a loving family—helped a little girl heal in body and spirit.

Ask 7-year-old Kat what she wants to do when she grows up, and she’ll tell you, as if on cue, “To help hurting children and make them happy!”

Kat—short for Katarina—knows a lot about being happy. She loves playing with her friends, dancing, gymnastics, Legos, animals, the beach, and her close-knit family, which includes three doting older sisters.

But Kat also knows about hurting. Just before Christmas 2015—only a day before she turned 6—she was attacked by two large dogs. The unprovoked attack ripped all five nerves that extend down the length of her left arm from their roots, paralyzing the arm. It also injured her spinal cord, fractured her skull and left her with wounds all over her body.

by Christianna McCausland • July 28, 2017
Finding resilience and hope at the Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress.

In many ways, Zyaira is like most 9-year-old girls. She loves to ride her bike, roller-skate and do her own hair. She likes to help her mom cook—grilled cheese is a favorite. But when she came to Kennedy Krieger Institute's Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress in 2013, she was a very different child.

After witnessing her father have a massive heart attack, she and her mother, Charisse, moved to Baltimore from rural Virginia. Soon, Zyaira’s concerns over her father’s health were compounded by separation anxiety and difficulty adjusting to a city school. Shy by nature, Zyaira would be reserved and quiet, and then have uncontrollable temper tantrums. She was afraid to sleep alone at night, and she talked in a baby voice when stressed.

by Kristina Rolfes • December 05, 2016
Unable to eat on their own for their first three years of life, these quadruplets overcame their feeding disorders with the help of specialists at the Instiute.
The quadruplets

It seems like an obvious fact of life: if a child is hungry enough, he will eat. Yet for some children with a history of prematurity or developmental disorders, eating is a skill that does not develop automatically.

When quadruplets Timmy, Edda, Lily, and Wyatt were born prematurely at 24 weeks’ gestation, their parents, Anne and Rob, knew their babies would face continuing medical complications. But they didn’t anticipate how much of a struggle the simple act of eating would be.


Bradley L. Schlaggar, M.D., Ph.D., Named President and CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute

We’re thrilled to welcome Bradley L. Schlaggar, M.D., Ph.D., to the Kennedy Krieger family as our next President and CEO.

Learn more.


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