Introducing our 2023 Big Hearts Walk Grand Marshals

Introducing our 2023 Big Hearts Walk Grand Marshals

The Annual Big Hearts Walk for St. Mary’s Kids and Family Fun Day is just around the corner, and it’s a time for the St. Mary’s community to come together and take steps toward a brighter future for St Mary’s Kids. The event is an incredible opportunity to raise critically needed funds that support vital programs and services for St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children.

As New York’s largest and most experienced provider of long-term care to children with medically complex conditions, St. Mary’s is committed to improving the health and quality of life for children with special healthcare needs. The Walk is extra special this year, as some of St. Mary’s Kids have been selected to lead the way as Grand Marshals. Their names are Alessia, Lukas, Karter, Elias, Joshua, Tyler, and Nathaniel, Liam, and Alex. Come and be part of this unforgettable experience as we pay tribute to these courageous children and their families.

Meet our Grand Marshals:


Alessia’s story is one of determination, courage, and progress. In August 2020, she faced a devastating car accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury. But instead of letting this setback define her, Alessia turned to St. Mary’s Locomotor Training Program to help her on her road to recovery.

The Locomotor Training Program is an intensive and personalized therapy program that focuses on improving function in individuals with spinal cord injuries and other neurological diagnoses. From the beginning, Alessia embraced the program with enthusiasm and determination, and her progress has been remarkable.

Thanks to her hard work and the interventions used in the program, Alessia can now stand and walk with less body weight support while maintaining an appropriate posture. Her trunk control has significantly improved, making it easier for her to self-propel in her wheelchair and respond to challenges to her balance.

But it’s not just her physical progress that has impressed the team at St. Mary’s. Alessia’s positive attitude, infectious smile, and love of music and dance have made her a joy to work with. She faces every challenge with enthusiasm and determination, inspiring everyone around her to work harder and be their best.

Alessia’s story reminds us that anything is possible with hard work, determination, and a positive attitude. St. Mary’s is proud to have Alessia as a part of our family, and we can’t wait to see all the incredible things she will accomplish in the future.



Little Warrior Lukas Georgios Memos was born on June 27, 2022, to parents Kimberly and Jim. After a traumatic C-section, Lukas suffered severe brain injuries, including HIE (Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy), Meconium aspiration, GDD (Global Developmental Delay), and severe hypertonicity.

After extraordinary measures and being placed on life support, Lukas spent three months in the NICU before being transferred to St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, receiving a wide range of critical services. He has a dedicated team of speech, occupational, physical, and recreation therapists, nurses, and the entire St. Mary’s community surrounding him and his family.

Recently, he has been fitted for leg and hand splints to improve his flexibility and tone and reduce spasms. He is slowly learning how to eat small amounts of baby food.

As many babies do, Lukas loves to be held and snuggled. He knows his parents’ voices and feels relaxed when they sing or hum to him. Lukas loves playing with friends on his unit, tummy time on the exercise ball, stretching, and tasting new foods. Lukas has made significant progress in the last seven months, and everyone at St. Mary’s is so proud of him for his accomplishments.


Karter’s story is a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Born at just 24 weeks, weighing a mere 1lb and 6oz, Karter faced enormous challenges from the very beginning. But from the moment he entered this world, he was determined to fight his way through every obstacle in his path.

Today, Karter resides at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, where he receives the best possible care for his tracheotomy and feeding tube. Despite the challenges he faces, Karter’s bright, energetic, and joyous spirit shines through every day. His infectious smile and cheerful personality never fail to lift the spirits of those around him.

The staff at St. Mary’s are constantly amazed by Karter’s determination and strength. Despite the numerous medical challenges in his young life, he has already accomplished so much. His unwavering spirit and positive attitude are an inspiration to all who know him.

Karter’s story reminds us that no matter how difficult the road may be, we all have the strength to overcome any obstacle. His infectious joy and determination are a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and serve as a powerful inspiration to us all.


Despite facing many challenges, Elias radiates positivity and joy, a testament to the exceptional care he receives at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children. Since 2014, Elias has called St. Mary’s his home, where he has made incredible progress under the guidance of our dedicated staff. Through physical, occupational, and speech therapy services, Elias has regained his strength and improved his communication skills. The nursing technician services provided at St. Mary’s have also played a crucial role in supporting Elias’s journey toward recovery. His progress is a testament to St. Mary’s unwavering commitment to providing the highest quality of care. Elias’s unbreakable spirit and progress are a source of inspiration to all who have the privilege of meeting him.


Tyler Taylor’s story is one of remarkable strength and determination. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age, Tyler has received St. Mary’s Home Care services since she was eight. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Tyler has made astounding progress in her physical and occupational therapy, displaying an unwavering commitment to her recovery.

But Tyler’s achievements go far beyond her therapy sessions. She has completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Hofstra University, an extraordinary accomplishment that serves as a testament to her hard work and resilience. Along the way, Tyler completed internships at Northwell Health and State Senator Todd Kaminsky’s office, where she worked on policy changes to advocate for people with medical complexities.

Tyler’s dedication to her education and advocacy work is an inspiration to us all. Her journey has been difficult, but she has never let her medical condition define or limit her potential. With her degrees in hand, Tyler hopes to use her knowledge to work in the medical field and help others with complex medical conditions. Tyler’s story is a powerful reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the limitless possibilities that exist for those who refuse to give up on their dreams.


Home Care

Josh’s journey has been nothing short of inspiring. Born at 23 weeks, weighing just 1lb 3oz, he spent over a year in the NICU, overcoming numerous obstacles and challenges. He’s come a long way and reached many milestones – he’s no longer vent or oxygen dependent, eats by mouth, and communicates with push buttons. Josh continues to amaze us today with his perseverance, strength, and zest for life. Joshy receives OT, PT, and Speech therapy through St. Mary’s Home Care, and he loves all his therapists.


Nathaniel was previously receiving care through St. Mary’s home care program and has now seamlessly transitioned to St. Mary’s Hospital for Children for long-term care. It brings us immense joy to have Nathaniel and his family actively participating in this meaningful event.


Early Ed

Born prematurely at just 30 weeks old, Liam’s journey has been filled with complex medical challenges. Spending five months in the NICU, he underwent life-saving surgeries, including duodenal atresia repair, g-tube placement, VP shunt surgery, and esophageal atresia repair. Despite his cerebral palsy diagnosis, Liam’s unwavering spirit and determination have led to remarkable progress every day since he came home.

At the age of three, Liam started St. Mary’s Hospital for Children’s Special Needs Preschool.  A social butterfly at heart, Liam’s joy knows no bounds as he takes the bus and greets everyone he encounters with a warm hello. St. Mary’s has become a beacon of hope and growth for Liam, with a team of dedicated educators and therapists who have played an integral role in his development. With their unwavering support, Liam’s vocabulary continues to expand, paving the way for even greater achievements. Recently, Liam achieved a significant milestone by completing feeding therapy at St. Mary’s. This invaluable support transformed his life, as he now eats more independently, and episodes of vomiting are a thing of the past.  With every step forward, Liam inspires us all, reminding us that incredible progress is within reach with unwavering determination and the support of a compassionate community.

Alex Merlin

Alex Merlin is 11 years old and has been at St. Mary’s for a year and a half. He was born 15 weeks premature and is a surviving identical twin. He also has a big sister named Avery, who is 13. Alex got very sick when he was 7 days old with an intestinal infection. He endured many surgeries and was in the NICU for 355 days after he was born. He has short bowel syndrome, cerebral palsy, cortical blindness, chronic lung disease, and suffered a brain injury in the NICU.

Alex is the sweetest, most gentle boy. He loves people, music (especially Adele!), touching and feeling books, and being outside. Since coming to St Mary’s, Alex has been thriving. He gets the medical care he needs around the clock, school, therapy, and countless recreational activities. He is so stimulated and happy!

Come and witness the amazing progress made by children like Alessia, Lukas, Karter, Elias, Joshua, Tyler, Nathaniel, and Liam through the outstanding care provided by St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children. Be a part of the 2023 Big Hearts Walk for St. Mary’s Kids on Sunday, May 21st, at Crocheron Park, and help us continue our mission of improving the health and quality of life for children, young adults, and families with medical complexity and special healthcare needs. Together, we can create a brighter future for St. Mary’s Kids!

Click here to register today!