RVA Parenting: Walk to conquer Chiari Malformation

RVA Parenting: Walk to conquer Chiari Malformation

(WWBT) - A Richmond area family hopes you will join them on a walk to conquer Chiari Malformation, a neurological disorder that can impact the brain and spine.

The walk will raise money for research, education, and awareness programs. It will be held on Sept. 23 at the Village at Westchester Commons. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and the two-mile walk starts at 10 a.m.

There will also be a free concert on Sept. 22, also at Westchester Commons from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The concert will feature the Kings of Swing, the Chick-fil-A cow, and Nutzy the Flying Squirrels mascot.

Plus, there will be free music, food, and face painting.

Brendon lives in the area, and his early years were far from ordinary because of his Chiari diagnosis.

"Chiari is where the brain descends or comes down to the back of the skull," said Carol Witt, his mother. "It grows into the spinal canal."

In Branden's case, it kept spinal fluid from getting to his brain. He had a host of health problems as a result.

"I literally felt like somebody had punched me in the gut," said Witt. "I mean, I had – I couldn't breathe."

Three-hundred-thousand people in the United States have Chiari, and it could affect everyone differently. It can impact adults and children.

Some of them get headaches, but for others, it can impact mobility and intellectual development.

For Branden, surgery solved most of his problems.

"He'll have a fairly normal life versus where he was really challenged before," said Rick Gibbs, Branden's godfather, who is hosting the walk.

"The only thing we worry about is the wear of the hardware as he keeps growing," added Witt.

Branden will have to avoid contact sports, but his life will otherwise be fairly mobile.

Still, his mother wonders how his life would have been different, if he'd been diagnosed sooner.

Branden's godfather is hoping other parents will never have to wonder that because they'll know to ask about Chiari.

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