When children are given the chance to play together without expectations or labels, authentic compassion and friendship can emerge. Katie Leigh Myers and her son, Kaden, witnessed that first-hand — and Katie’s post to thank a kind, unidentified boy is going viral on Facebook.
Something happens when we become parents. Our hearts really do explode outside our bodies and begin to walk around in raw, vulnerable fashion. When our children hurt, we hurt. Likewise, when others show compassion for our children, our hearts explode in a very different, good way.
Learning a baby has a diagnosis that may shorten his life is heartbreaking, and parents often face a choice: Climb under the covers or decide to fight back.
Myers chose the latter when she and her husband discovered their 6-month-old son, Kaden, has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). A motor neuron disease, SMA is the leading genetic cause of death for infants, and neither treatment nor a cure exist for this disease “that robs people of physical strength by affecting the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, taking away the ability to walk, eat, or breathe,” according to nonprofit Cure SMA.
Devastated, they looked in their son’s eyes and knew they would never give up. Katie began a blog devoted to raising awareness of SMA and funds for both research and Kaden’s medical expenses.
This week, their fight unexpectedly went viral when Katie and Kaden encountered a kind little boy during a trip to the science museum. Katie snapped a picture of the unidentified boy helping Kaden, and while she blurred his face to ensure his privacy, she thanked him via social media.
“Thank you for being amazing,” she said. “You let my son play and engage with you. You helped him pick up balls from the floor when you saw that he could not. You didn’t ask what was wrong with him or why he couldn’t walk, you just saw him …”
Overnight, more than 200,000 people had liked her post on Facebook and she began getting messages from grandparents, neighbors and friends who were sure they knew the little boy.
While they’ve all been wrong, Katie says the fact that so many people believe they know this kind little boy is inspirational by itself.
“He has given my life meaning beyond anything I ever imagined,” she told SheKnows. The kind little boy perhaps saw exactly what Kaden’s parents see: “We think he is the most amazing kid in the universe.”
“My dream is for Kaden to grow up in a world where he is seen before his wheelchair. He is not confined to a wheelchair, he is mobilized by one and is one of the most independent and capable 1-year-olds on earth. He is a daredevil who wants to try everything, and we will do anything to make that possible for him.”