2015 Family Advocacy Day Hero -- Hayden

HZeleny.Hayden.jpgayden has a form of cerebral palsy called spastic diplegia, characterized by abnormal tightness in her leg muscles. Her cerebral palsy also causes problems with her upper extremities, making everyday tasks like buttoning a shirt or using a pencil challenging. When Hayden was 4 years old, she received her first of many surgeries at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare—a selective dorsal rhizotomy, which selectively destroyed nerve roots in her spinal cord, permanently reducing the tightness in her arm and leg muscles. Following the surgery, she underwent five weeks of intensive inpatient rehabilitation to help her muscles learn to move without their former tightness. For the next three years, annual orthopedic surgeries helped straighten the bones in her legs and feet, improving her ability to walk independently.

At only 10 years old, Hayden is already someone who fights for her dreams. Her biggest dream is to be treated like other kids. Hayden’s favorite things include the color purple, unicorns, dancing, swimming and hanging out with her friends. She is active in her school’s student council and yearbook club, and consistently makes the Honor Roll. Hayden wants to share her story to help people understand what life is like with cerebral palsy. “I feel like I’m doing a good job with my dream because I’ve taught people how to treat a person with a disability fairly,” she says. “This makes me feel successful.”

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