Meet Kid HERO Eryn!

Eryn, 2020 Kid HERO Crew member

“When I was 3 years old I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD). I don’t remember much about my diagnosis, but I do remember how amazing the nurses and staff were. They did their best to make me feel at home. A few months after I was diagnosed, I went to my first ever diabetes support group at CHaD. It was there I was first introduced to the diabetes community. I learned how to embrace my diabetes and that I was capable of everything I wanted to do. It was through this group that I was introduced to ADA Camp Carefree. Camp was where I embraced diabetes. It if weren’t for CHaD, I may have never reached my full potential as a diabetic. I learned to love my diabetes.” – Eryn, Kid HERO Crew member

Eryn playing field hockey and basketball

Check out Eryn’s team, Eryn’s Avengers, here! To register and join a team, visit www.chadhero.org and be a hero for our 95,000 CHaD kids.

Meet Kid HERO Owen!

Owen swinging on a swing

Owen, 2020 Kid HERO Crew member

“Owen’s story is one of a fighter, a triplet, and a very small, premature baby.  Owen and his brothers, Cooper and Silas, were born at 24 weeks and 2 days, almost 4 months too soon, on July 18, 2018.  Owen weighed in at 1 pound 10 oz and 12 inches long, the biggest of the three boys. Each brother entered this world crying and breathing on their own, however, not long after birth, Owen was placed on a ventilator for respiratory support. Within 15 hours all three boys were on full respiratory support and started their fight for their lives in the Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) at CHaD.  

Owen, Cooper and Silas in the ICN

Owen and his brothers, Silas and Cooper, in the ICN

In the next 24 hours, Owen was struggling the most of the three, already having his first of three chest tubes placed and a head ultrasound performed to assess for a bleed in his brain.  Yet, it was his brother Cooper who unfortunately lost his battle less than two days after coming into this world, due to his premature lungs.  Thanks to the competent Medical Staff, compassionate Nursing, and dedicated Respiratory Therapists, Owen was held for the first time by his mother only hours after Cooper passed away, allowing the importance of Kangaroo Care (skin-to-skin) to assist in his recovery.  Owen and his parents then said goodbye to their beloved Silas six days later, after he battled many complexities of prematurity and his lungs could no longer support his small body.  

Owen spent the next 168 days combating almost every common condition of a 24-week-old micro-preemie in the ICN.  He survived a brain bleed which led to fluid build up on the brain (hydrocephalus) and brain surgery before his due date, three chest tubes placed to assist with collapsed lungs,  multiple blood transfusions, suspected infections treated with multiple rounds of antibiotics, and weeks of being placed on paralytics to avoid fighting his ventilator support. Finally, due to an inability to extubate successfully, Owen had his last surgery, which included a tracheostomy so he could breathe independently with a ventilator while also working to develop normally as a baby.  Owen’s tracheostomy surgery was paired with surgeries for a G-tube placement, as eating by mouth was and is still difficult for Owen, as well as bilateral hernia repairs, again all occurring BEFORE Owen was even due to be born.  

Jessica, Owen's mom, reading Owen a story

Owen’s mom, Jessica, reading to Owen

Owen's parents and Owen celebrating his last day in the ICN before he came home.

Owen and his parents celebrate his last day in the ICN!

After 174 long days, on January 8, 2019, Owen’s parents finally got to carry their six-month-old baby, and a car full of medical equipment, out of the ICN for the first time. In the next two months, Owen was weaned off of all oxygen support.  Within six months he was trialing time off of the ventilator’s pressure support, and by October 2019 he could breathe on his own 24 hours a day.  While still on the ventilator Owen lived the life of a normal baby, learning to roll, loving to swing, and lighting up everyone’s world with his smile.  Off the ventilator, but still with a Trach and G-Tube, Owen has learned how to crawl and now walk, he loves eating out (he eats 60% of his food by mouth), and he even cheered his mother on as she finished the CHaD HERO Half Marathon in Fall of 2019 — fittingly he sported a full Superman outfit.  

Owen in his superman costume at the 2019 HERO

Owen and his dad at the 2019 CHaD HERO

Owen’s journey is not over, as having a Trach, G-tube and premature lungs puts him at serious risk for illness and regression, which he has battled this spring.  Growing and eating are not easy for Owen and he has yet to speak his first words due to having a Trach, so development is slow and will continue to be a challenge throughout his early childhood.  However, Owen continues to overcome each obstacle put in his way, and despite all of the challenges he continues to smile and remind us all that life is incredibly precious.  

Owen and his parents standing on a dock by water

Owen and his parents

So Owen is a HERO, yes, he is idealized for his outstanding achievements, his amazing feats and warrior-like qualities. But, Owen also represents all CHaD HEROES; he overcomes and smiles through it all, not just for himself, but for his brothers, and all babies and children who have had to, are currently, or who will have to, fight for their lives.” — Jessica, Owen’s mom

Owen in his Superman shirt

Join Owen and his family in this year’s virtual CHaD HERO! You can run, walk, hike, bike, or choose your own Virtual Quest activity to support CHaD kids like Owen.

Visit www.chadhero.org to register.