Our champion children are the entire reason our organization exists! This season, we will focus on these 10 children, pairing them up with a CC4C alumnus/alumna champion child, a champion teammate, and a high school team who, together, create a team of inspiration and support as they race toward their recovery finish line.
2015 – 2016 Champion Children
MOTTO: “I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me”
CHAMPION TEAMMATE: Tanya Streeter: World Record Freediver, TV Host
CHAMPION HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Georgetown High School Volleyball
As a small child, Avery had recurrent sinus and ear infections which would not clear up with antibiotics. She struggled with psoriasis which caused scaly patches to develop on her skin, and joint pain due to psoriatic arthritis. Around age three, she was diagnosed with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) and began monthly intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) infusions. The infusions routinely caused aseptic meningitis which caused her to have severe headaches, nausea and vomiting. Avery had many sinus surgeries which included the insertion of multiple sets of ear tubes, a tonsillectomy, an adenoidectomy, a turbinate reduction and surgeries to the frontal and maxillary sinuses.
Avery is now 12 years old. She still gets monthly IVIg infusions but, with the help of post-infusion medications, she rarely suffers from aseptic meningitis. Avery has found that exercise is the best medicine (not to take anything away from her wonderful doctors). Avery has become an avid runner. She enjoys volleyball, and she completed her first triathlon. Avery’s favorite quote is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
MOTTO: “Never Give Up”
CHAMPION TEAMMATE: Talaya Frazier: 10X Boston Marathoner, Model, Spokesperson
CHAMPION HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Lake Travis High School Cavalettes
Eva was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis when she was five years old. This particular type of arthritis is a joint problem that often occurs in conjunction with psoriasis.
For three years, she bravely battled through this diagnosis. When she was eight years old, she began experiencing pain in her right eye. She had partial vision loss in both eyes—20/200—which was irreversible and uncorrectable with eyeglasses. She is now legally blind with 20/1,000 vision in both eyes and has extreme sensitivity to light. Most recently, Eva has started experiencing hearing and breathing issues. She has seen several specialists including three different types of ophthalmologists. She is currently under the care of a neurologist and a Lyme disease specialist. So far, no courses of treatment have helped.
Eva’s favorite quote is “Never give up,” and her hobbies include singing, playing the guitar, dancing, and gymnastics. The Lake Travis Cavalettes are excited to welcome her into their family as an honorary Cavelette this year.
MOTTO: “Come On, Get Happy”
CHAMPION TEAMMATE: Shannon Sarnella: World Record Powerlifter
CHAMPION HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Cedar Park High School Celebrities Dance Team
Evelyn’s health issues became apparent over the first few years of life. Initially her issues were mild, but they continued to develop as she grew. Chronic ear and respiratory infections, along with hearing, speech and motor delays defined Evelyn’s life.
By age three, she had increasing difficulties with her gastrointestinal, respiratory and immune systems. She was diagnosed with IgG immunoglobulin deficiency (immune deficiency), gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD), recurrent pneumonia, obesity/eating disorder and behavioral issues.
In 2005, Evelyn and her family relocated to Austin from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Evelyn’s new medical team added epilepsy, autism, ADHD, eating and sleeping disorders, hypothyroid, adrenal insufficiency, auditory processing disorder, sensory processing disorder and asthma to her list of diagnoses. Evelyn has been under the care of five different geneticists in the hope of finding an explanation and diagnosis.
MOTTO: “Never Give Up, You Can Do This”
CHAMPION TEAMMATE: Jack Ingram: Singer/Songwriter
CHAMPION HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Hays High School Football
Robert was diagnosed with stage four high risk Neuroblastoma when he was nine months old. He had seven rounds of chemo, two tumor removal surgeries, a stem cell transplant, 12 rounds of radiation and six months of maintenance therapy. He is now happy to say that he has been cancer free for three years. Unfortunately the chemo that saved his life placed many other obstacles in his path. It left him with a severe speech delay and motor processing disorder. It also left Robert with scarring on his liver that needs to be watched carefully. The chemo caused damage to his bone marrow and some of his adult teeth. He is in speech and occupational therapy three times a week. Robert gets follow-ups from his radiation oncologist and oncologist every six months to make sure he stays healthy.
Through it all he always smiles and enjoys everything that life brings his way. He will start kindergarten in the fall, and he will be in speech through school two times a week to help him with words. His family’s favorite thing to see is his smile. To see him smile brings them so much happiness.
MOTTO: “I’m Not Afraid”
CHAMPION TEAMMATE: Holly Mills-Gardner “Miss Texas”, Model, Spokesperson
CHAMPION HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Lake Travis High School Basketball
Jacob is one of the kindest children you could ever meet. He always wants to do what is right. He refuses to lie, and he was born with a sense of honor that most adults do not have. His Kindergarten teacher recognized this and cared deeply about his welfare.
He did very well the first few months of school, but sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving he started becoming clumsier, having daily headaches, forgetting things, crying, sleeping some days 15-18 hours at a time (sometimes sleeping over 24 hours), falling asleep in the middle of a sentence and having migraines, nausea, stomach aches, bloody discharge from his eyes, very dark black circles around his eyes for days at a time, weight loss (food would taste funny for days at a time), incontinence, inability to find words, seizure like trances followed by post seizure-like behaviors, confusion and emotional outbursts on a regular basis (outburst are very uncharacteristic of Jake).
Over the last year, Jacob went through an endless battery of tests that did not yield a definitive diagnosis. An initial MRI of Jacobs brain identified an abnormality, but it is still unclear if it is a tumor, a rare disorder called abnormal brain migration or something altogether different. Jacob paid many visits to Dell Children’s Medical Center for an EEG, a gastric emptying test, a sleep test, an upper GI, a Lyme disease test and a second brain MRI. At the end of June, he will go back to Dell for another brain MRI, a spinal MRI, a spinal tap and a seizure study. Jacob will take a trip to Boston Children’s Hospital for further neurological tests, a second opinion and more treatment options.
Jacob still believes he can do anything. I don’t want him to lose his hopeful spirit, but it can’t last much longer under the assaults on his health and learning. He dreams of being a famous basketball player.
MOTTO: “Live Strong, Fight Hard”
CHAMPION TEAMMATE: Ashley Yarborough
CHAMPION HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Cedar Park High School Celebrities
As a toddler, Maddie was often very sick. She had repeat sinus and respiratory infections, and when she was four years old, she had sinus surgery. Maddie remained relatively healthy for a few years after that, but then she developed a sinus infection that wouldn’t clear after 10 days on an antibiotic. Her ENT doctor put her on a 21-day course of sulpha drugs to knock out the infection. On day 19, she received a flu shot and within two hours had a high fever.
After one week, Maddie was hospitalized for Steven Johnson’s Syndrome. This disease occurs when the body doesn’t have enough immunoglobins to fight off infections. It affects the body anywhere there are mucous membranes present, both internally and externally, and causes a blistering rash inside and out.
Maddie received an implant to slow puberty down so she could grow. In the past five years, she has had three ports. They are supposed to last three years, but her body continually rejects them after roughly one year. The treatment for this disease is IV infusions. She has received one each month for the past five years. Chiropractic care helps prevent her from getting migraines and sinus infections. Her favorite quote is “Live strong, fight hard!”
She is partially homeschooled, but she’ll be spending a lot of time with her brand new “Celebrities.”
MOTTO: “Be Strong…Live Life”
CHAMPION TEAMMATE: Mark Henry “The World’s Strongest Man”
CHAMPION HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Bowie High School Basketball
At six years old, Chase contracted bacterial meningitis. He had been playing football in the yard and within moments, had fallen into unconsciousness. With a three percent chance of survival, Chase stayed in a coma and on life support for 10 days with little to no brain activity. After miraculously waking up, it seemed his body had basically made a full recovery. Slowly, his doctors began to realize after repeated illnesses and infections that his body’s ability to make his own antibodies had been destroyed by meningitis. He basically no longer has his own immune system.
For the past four years, Chase has been under the care of the Infectious Department at Dell Children’s Medical Center. He receives an IV infusion every month. Each infusion is a mixture of 20,000 different donor’s antibodies, giving him the best chance of being able to fight the many germs he comes in contact with. Through trial and error, the staff at Dell has done an amazing job matching him with a donor pool that has little rejection on his part.
Chase has been given a broad diagnosis of Primary Immune Deficiency Disease. Doctors believe his disease is more specific and continue to work toward a more specific diagnosis.
Chase loves all things sports with basketball being his true passion.
MOTTO: “Believe In Yourself”
CHAMPION TEAMMATE: Jeni Raymond: Boston Marathoner
CHAMPION HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Regents School of Austin Football
After his eyes became shaky at three months old, Jeremy’s eyes stopped tracking movement one month later. Doctors in Houston and at the Cleveland Clinic weren’t successful in finding any type of diagnosis but warned his parents that he was quickly deteriorating and most likely would not live past one year.
At nine months, he had stopped smiling altogether and either slept or cried nonstop. A CT scan presented Jeremy with a craniosynostosis diagnosis. This is a birth defect that causes all of the skull plates to fuse together, preventing the skull from expanding to accommodate brain growth. Jeremy underwent surgery to relieve the cranial pressure at 13 months old, and his vision returned but his muscles remained extremely weak.
Doctors in Dallas, at the National Institutes of Health and Duke University guess that Jeremy has an endocrine disease because of the involvement of both bone and muscle. His condition causes his muscles to be so weak that he cannot walk, talk, sit or lift his head for long periods of time. He has constant headaches, nausea, neck and joint pain. Jeremy has had more than 40 surgeries, including five major skull surgeries, two heart surgeries and eight on his eyes. He taught himself to read and write, a huge surprise to his family. He works extremely hard at daily exercises to strengthen his muscles and is working hard to find an easier way to communicate with everyone around him.
MOTTO: “No Fear”
CHAMPION TEAMMATE: Michelle Calaway: 2X WWE Champion, 2X WWE Champion Diva, Model
CHAMPION HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Georgetown High School Lacrosse
Caroline was born with Job syndrome, and at age three, officially diagnosed.
Job syndrome is a rare, inherited disease that is known to trigger problems with the skin, sinuses, lungs, bones, and teeth. It causes the skin to become covered in rash-like boils from head to toe.
For the first three years of her life, Caroline visited Texas Children’s Hospital, Mayo Clinic and an Immune Deficiency Foundation Conference hoping to obtain insight into immune disorders. She has had multiple pneumonias, surgeries and hospitalizations.
At school, she plays the violin, and she loves to cook and bake when she’s at home.
This year, she is a proud, new honorary member of the Georgetown High School Girls Lacrosse team… Eagle Fight Never Dies!
MOTTO: “It’s Not Whether You Get Knocked Down. It’s Whether You Get Back Up”
CHAMPION TEAMMATE: Mark Calaway “The Undertaker” Wrestling Champion
CHAMPION HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Hutto High School Football
Drew was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis when he was 11 years old. Nineteen months after the diagnosis, a series of illnesses led him to two more diagnoses—Lyme disease and occipital neuralgia.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread through tick bites. Occipital neuralgia is chronic pain in the upper neck, back of the head and behind the eyes. It is caused by damage to the greater occipital nerve, a spinal nerve that affects blood supply to the occipital artery.