Why We Walk: Parker’s Story

5-Year-Old Flushing Boy to Help Lead Walk for St. Mary’s Kids on May 19

Like most five-year-olds, Parker Chen loves to go the park, play on the iPad, and watch his favorite TV shows; Parker’s favorite is Blues Clues. But unlike most other children, Parker was born two and a half months early with a rare genetic abnormality called CHARGE Syndrome. Parker and his family spent the first year of his life in the hospital. Parker is legally blind and deaf, he requires a feeding tube for nutrition, and is on continuous oxygen support. But from the very start, this little boy was full of life and surrounded by love.

Shortly after arriving home, little Parker began receiving services from St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children to help him meet his developmental milestones. St. Mary’s nurses accompany Parker to the Lexington School for the Deaf each day, taking care of all his medical needs. Parker is fluent in sign language, which he uses to communicate his needs or even tell a joke or two; his nurses have also become fluent in sign. In the evenings, a St. Mary’s nurse is there to care for Parker, making sure he is safe and remains free from distress throughout the night. Parker also receives physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and vision therapy to help him be his best.

Since Parker has come home, he continues to surprise his family everyday with his love of life, enjoying every small detail, and never letting anything get in his way. He is such a determined little fighter and an inspiration to all those who have the opportunity to meet him.

In the past 2 ½ years Parker has grown and reached incredible milestones, the most recent being the removal of his tracheostomy, the breathing apparatus around his neck. Parker is now able to breath without his trach and is doing incredibly well.

In recognition of all of his tremendous accomplishments, Parker has been named a Grand Marshal for the Walk for St. Mary’s Kids on May 19 at Belmont Park in Elmont. He and his family will help lead the Walk representing the 4,000 children with special needs and medically complex conditions in St. Mary’s care each day. Learn more at http://www.stmaryskids.org/walk2013.

Throughout this whole journey Parker’s family say they have never underestimated the power of hope. His mother Suzanne explains, “It was not only faith, but the support of family, friends, inspiring and determined doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, advocates, and strangers; everyone contributed emotionally, spiritually, and physically to get us through each day.”

About the Walk

The Walk for St. Mary’s Kids is an annual event that raises funds and awareness to support programs and services for children with special needs at St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children. The Walk includes a 1/2 mile or 2.5 mile walk, family fun activities and exhibition tents. The Walk is presented by Laborers Local 79, Laborers Care and sponsors include Rallye Acura, The New York Racing Association, Alma Bank, Local Union #3 IBEW, Farinella Consulting, Municipal Credit Union. All proceeds from the Walk go to benefit programs and services provided by St. Mary’s. Visit http://www.stmaryskids.org/walk2013.

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