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Koen (left) with his little brother Kody at last year’s Summer Scamper.

The Gilliam family calls Summer Scamper “Koen’s Race.” They treasure the event as an annual milestone marking just how far their beloved Little Dude has come.

Born with a depressed heart rate causing damage to his brain, Koen was rushed to our hospital within an hour of his birth to get access to the life-saving technology, cutting-edge research, and expert care he needed. He spent the first month of his life in our neonatal intensive care unit and intermediate nursery.

Koen’s parents, Nickole and Ryan, weren’t able to hold him right away, but every day nurses encouraged them to be involved and nurture tiny Koen.

“They made sure we felt like we were still parents by letting us do what we could like change diapers, wash his face, and feed him little drops of milk,” remembers Nickole. “From the beginning, the doctors and nurses gave us reason to hope. We continue to live through the advice we received from his neurologist who said brains can do amazing things when kids are young, so do not place any limits on what is possible.”

Little by little, Koen’s health improved and he was able to head home with his parents. His medical journey continues, and he receives ongoing care from our radiology, neurology, ophthalmology, and orthopedic teams.

Your support of the Children’s Fund means that patients like Koen benefit from the best care and life-saving research available. All contributions, of any size, make a difference. Learn more about the Children’s Fund here.

Now a very busy 5-year-old, Koen loves riding his favorite pony, Buster, and swimming any chance he gets. He’s a wonderful big brother to 3-year-old Kody and he’s also really into building circuits.  “And Koen has also been a ring bearer twice and is pretty proud of that!” says Nickole.

Koen’s fan club spans far and wide, and every year out-of-town family members support Koen’s participation in the Summer Scamper kids’ fun run by getting active wherever they are and running “alongside” him. “We usually have people Scampering with us from at least 10 cities across North America,” adds Nickole.

Thank you for supporting Summer Scamper and the Children’s Fund, making vital research, community programs, and family-centered care available to children like Koen.

Koen is #WhyWeScamper.

Register today for the 8th annual Summer Scamper on Sunday, June 24, 2018, and support care, comfort, and cures for more kids like Koen.