Running a race (and making it to the finish line) is a huge accomplishment, especially for brothers Tobias and Titus. 10-year-old Tobias wrote a letter to News9 in Oklahoma City asking if he could borrow a jogging stroller to push Titus, his 11-year-old brother with cerebral palsy, in an upcoming 5k race. Since their mom wasn’t able to afford this type of stroller, ABLE Tech, a statewide program funded by federal grants that provides assisting technology to individuals with disabilities, graciously gifted one to the brothers to use for this race and future races.
Photo by: Molly Sanders
Running the race together was a dream come true. This Thoughtful Thursday, we congratulate Tobias and Titus on completing their first race and making an effort to get out and play, no matter the circumstances.
Photo by: JMHS Foundation
Check out this video of Titus and Tobias before the big race:
Being a superhero is a tough job. Good thing seven-year-old Alex Leloenoa was up for the challenge. Alex had his wish granted by the Make a Wish Foundation and the Anaheim Police Department to spend a day as Robin, Batman’s crime-fighting partner. Batman and Alex drove around Orange Country in the Batmobile and battled the Riddler and other dastardly villains in Buena Park.
Photo by: KTLA-TV
This Thoughtful Thursday, we are thankful for Alex and his strength to fight the evil villain, Leukemia, each and every day.
For the past three years, Step2 and Infantino have teamed up to create a marketing campaign focused on showcasing the beauty, happiness and uniqueness of differently-abled children at play. The darling children that have been photographed for our Everybody Play’s campaign the past two years have been featured on our emails, website, Step2’s Amazon page and Step2’s YouTube channel.
Last week, 50 families from across the country traveled to San Diego to be a part of the Everybody Plays photo shoot with photographer, author and mom Kelle Hampton. Something occurred that was more powerful than just a marketing campaign for Step2 and Infantino; there were proud moments, milestones, smiles, giggles and friendships built during this magical occasion. This photo shoot was and still is an ongoing movement to show that every single child, no matter their age or ability plays, and has fun doing it.
Grace’s mom described her experience at Everybody Plays as comfortable and special. “No one cared what type of abilities your child had, they were just happy your child was there.” She was so proud to see her daughter play with other children and pose for the camera. Other moms, including Apollo’s mom, felt at ease as Kelle took pictures of their children. “[Kelle] was comfortable and flexible with them all. If a child was having a hard time, she simply gave them a break. Once they were happy she was ready to shoot again. There was no pressure and everyone was having fun.”
Photo by: 5boysand1girlmakes6.com
Although these wonderful children were the focal point of this photo, none of these beautiful pictures would have been possible without Kelle. The way she photographed and handled each child with such passion was heartwarming. She posted about her experience last week on her blog. “If you were part of the shoot this year, I want to tell you how special it was meeting you and your children–all of you,” she wrote. “We had a tight schedule and lots of babies to attend to, but I remember your hugs and your stories and your children. I saw the pride in your eyes, I felt how much you love them. I watched you soothe them and kiss them and work hard to make sure your babies were comfortable and aware of your presence.”
Children and parents came out of their comfort zones for this event and it could not have made us more ecstatic to see many children overcome their fears and create such beautiful images for everyone to enjoy.
Photo by: Kelle Hampton
The picture above truly embodies the love and acceptance of this annual event. The little girl in the pink top holding the other children together is Coco, the winner of the Everybody Plays Essay contest. Coco has Down syndrome and Leukemia, which thankfully is in remission. This strong little warrior just finished her last round of chemotherapy earlier this year and, as much as she has been through, her smile proves how spectacular she really is. She is a testament of strength and courage – we can all learn something from this inspirational little girl.
The families that attended this photo shoot go through struggles every day, but they also make the most of each day with their special and extraordinary children. The Everybody Plays campaign recognizes that each child has different abilities, but we also salute the parents that have given their time and dedication to their kids. These parents are pushing to make the world a better place for their children. With their help, Step2 and Infantino can exemplify the message of love and acceptance. After all, everybody plays.
Most kids write to Santa Claus asking for toys; but not eight-year-old Ryan Suffern. He asked if Santa could stop the kids at school from bullying his fraternal twin sister, Amber. He also asked if Amber’s favorite band Big Time Rush could come to Amber’s birthday party.
Ryan’s mom Karen was so touched by her son’s letter that she shared it on her Facebook page. The letter went viral and the family was interviewed on Good Morning America. Little did they know that Big Time Rush was waiting to greet Amber as an early birthday present.
This Thoughtful Thursday we commend both Ryan and Amber for taking a stand against bullying.
We will never forget that day twelve years ago. The tragedy of 9/11 affected each of us in different ways, including the children that were born post 9/11. For 11-year-old Max Siepert, he wanted to honor the brave heroes, so he donated.
Two days after the twelfth anniversary, Max walked into the Greenfield Police Department in Milwaukee and anonymously gave his $10.03 savings to the clerk. He quickly walked out. Greenfield police wanted to thank this kind boy, so they reached out the community through social media to ask people to identify him. They were able to learn who he was through Facebook.
In an interview with Max, he said, “I was happy that I did what I did because one day it’s going to make a difference. Maybe not a really big difference but at least it’s something.” He went on to say, “If every person would do that, we would have such a great world. It would be awesome.”
This Thoughtful Thursday, we thank Max for his kind heart and his desire to honor the brave men, women, and children of 9/11. He hopes that his story will inspire others. We are positive that it will!
When Cieran Kelso was 13 months old, he contracted meningitis, which resulted in having to have both of his legs amputated. But that didn’t stop him from swimming. To help Cieran swim, his father made Cieran prosthetic swim flippers. When he first watched the movie “Dolphin’s Tale,” he identified with Winter, a dolphin who lost her tail in a crab trap and was fitted with a prosthetic tail. It was his dream to one day swim with Winter.
On August 16, Cieran’s dream came true. He smiled as Winter performed tricks and frolicked around the large pool. In a recent interview, Cieran said he could have swam with her “for a million hours” if allowed, and “it was greater than great.” Besides her trainers and the actors from the film, Cieran is only the second person to have swum with her.
A quote from Dolphin’s Tale accurately describes how amazing they both are. “In this changing world, it’s harder than ever to find something extraordinary, but every once in a while a symbol of hope breaks through.” This Thoughtful Thursday is dedicated to both Cieran and Winter.