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Meet Christian: 2018 Family Advocacy Day Champion

Children's_Specialized_Hospital_Panarese__Christian.jpgChristian is participating at 2018 Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day from June 26-27 in Washington, D.C. During the event, Christian will share information about his health journey and the importance of children’s health care with members of Congress. Below is his story.

When he and his parents arrived at Children's Specialized Hospital, then 9-month-old Christian had no mobility. He could not swallow, eat, or sit up, and he cried constantly. Unable to hold anything in his right hand and totally without function in his left, Christian was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hydrocephaly and quadriplegia by 10 months.

But with his parents’ love and the hospital team’s compassionate and dedicated commitment to helping the entire family, Christian began to make progress. His feeding became less challenging and his choking reduced; he developed the skill to hold a sippy cup.

The doctors were uncertain at first how Christian would develop mentally. But at age 4, after significant testing under the direction of a neurologist, his team determined that Christian's mental development was on target for his age. With this knowledge, his family and the Children’s Specialized team continued to help him hit new milestones. 

By age 5, Christian was able to sit up in an adaptive chair and operate a motorized wheelchair. Christian’s first words at 7 1/2 “were music to our ears” gushed his parents, Frank and Nancy. “We all hoped one day that he could acquire the skill to make an ‘X’ for his signature, and today he can write his entire name and much more.”

Through everything, Christian’s outlook on life has remained rosy. “He has a wonderful personality. He is always upbeat in spite of his challenges. Christian is always willing to support and give to others,” his proud parents continued.

With the help of both medical and therapy services, Christian has progressed into an independent and happy teenager. Today, Christian is thriving both socially and in his community. Thanks to the care at Children’s Specialized, his dark prognosis has turned into a bright future full of opportunities. Christian was able to attend his local high school, and in 2017 he graduated with honors from the National Honor Society. Currently he’s enrolled in Union County Vocational Technology School for graphic arts, computer study and life skills.

In his spare time, Christian enjoys playing video games and hanging out with friends and family, but by travelling to the nation’s capital, he’s adding advocacy to his list of extracurricular activities. He and his family hope to tell the world that, despite being challenged physically and using a wheelchair, Christian is mentally intact and eager to enjoy a full life like any other teenage boy.

By sharing his story, this inspiring young man will tell lawmakers and the world that we should never judge people just because they are different; we should all have empathy — not sympathy — for those who appear to have challenges, and always remember to treat everyone equally.

Join us in welcoming Christian to 2018 Family Advocacy Day!


Showing 4 reactions


commented 2018-06-08 13:46:16 -0400 · Flag
Way to go, Christian!
commented 2018-06-07 09:41:49 -0400 · Flag
Christian, Thank you so much for going to Washington and advocating for Children’s health care! You have always been a champion and now you are sharing your story on the hill! I hope you have an amazing time! Go Christian! Linda Waddell
commented 2018-06-06 09:56:08 -0400 · Flag
Christian, I’m looking forward to joining you on the hill to advocate for our kids. Thank you so much for taking the time to give back in this critically important way! Ruth Bash
commented 2018-05-29 20:35:49 -0400 · Flag
Thank you very much Christian for traveling to Washington DC to meet with members of Congress and advocate for our hospital and children’s healthcare. I know your story will have a significant impact and inspire others!! You are truly an amazing young man!
Thank you,
Donna Provenzano