Why We Walk for St. Mary’s Kids

Why We Walk for St. Mary’s Kids

The Annual Big Hearts Walk for St. Mary’s Kids and Family Fun Day attracts staff, patient families, friends, community members, and businesses from the New York region to help raise funds and awareness for children and families with special needs.

St. Mary’s Hospital for Children is New York City’s only pediatric post-acute facility, caring for children with special healthcare needs and medically complex conditions. Children and their families come to St. Mary’s to receive exceptional care, learn to manage conditions, and achieve a better quality of life.

Each and every day, St. Mary’s Kids overcome incredible challenges and strive to meet all of their medical and educational milestones. To honor these courageous children, 10 of St. Mary’s Kids were named our Walk Grand Marshals. Children like Anthony, Luke, Danielle and Dontay make incredible gains each and every day and continue to strive for excellence in meeting all of their rehabilitative and educational goals. Learn about their remarkable journeys on their path to recovery.

Anthony’s Story

Anthony is a 5-year-old boy with a lot of energy and a contagious laugh and smile. He was diagnosed with Bronchiolitis Obliterans, an inflammatory condition that affects the lungs. The ailment caused scarring in his lungs, and he has trouble breathing on his own. Anthony’s family brought him to St. Mary’s Hospital for Children for intensive rehabilitation and therapy while he waits for a lung transplant, which would give him a 50% chance of recovery from his illness. Thanks to his treatment at St. Mary’s, Anthony has been making amazing progress and has learned to manage his breathing.

Anthony’s childhood has changed in so many ways, but throughout all of this, he continues to be strong, brave, positive and motivated. On any given day you can find him laughing, smiling, making others laugh, playing with his toys and enjoying one of his Grandma’s home-cooked meals.

Danielle’s Story

Born prematurely at just 25 weeks, Danielle weighed less than two pounds. She spent the first six months of life in an intensive care unit where she was also treated for Chronic Lung Disease. At six months she was placed on a ventilator and needed a trachea and feeding tube. Luckily for Danielle and her family, she was able to continue her care at home. Now a preschooler in St. Mary’s Early Education program, Danielle continues to grow and thrive and make significant progress in her development. For Danielle, St. Mary’s Early Education program has been a place where she feels safe, happy and has a positive learning environment to flourish in. Her family and St. Mary’s staff are all proud of all the progress Danielle has made.

Luke’s Story


At just 11 months old, Luke developed a blood clot on his spinal cord – a rare condition affecting roughly 30 kids in the entire world. Luke was paralyzed from the waist down and couldn’t breathe on his own. After months of effort, intensive treatment, and lots of love from family and friends, Luke is making incredible progress in our Locomotor Training Program to improve his mobility. St. Mary’s is the only facility in the New York area with both the equipment and the trained professional staff needed to offer this groundbreaking therapy to Luke and other kids with similar conditions! Luke continues to make big strides every day and is St. Mary’s Locomotor Training Program’s little superhero!

Dontay’s Story

Dontay, is a 15-year-old boy who joined the Medical Day Healthcare (MDHC) program in June 2013. Since starting the program, Dontay has been receiving physical, speech and occupational therapy to work on various goals and to improve his overall independence.

He has made tremendous progress in many different ways over the last several years. At first, he often kept to himself and had difficulty communicating and interacting with his peers. Over time though, the MDHC team began to see Dontay exude confidence more and more. He now expresses himself more clearly, and is now a social, outgoing, and a happy teenager who now loves to sing karaoke and perform for others. In physical therapy, he is highly motivated and has displayed improvements in strength and endurance. In in occupational therapy, he is making improvements in sequencing, memory and recall, he has also learned his address and phone number. We are so proud of all of Dontay’s hard work.

While some walk to celebrate the accomplishments of St. Mary’s kids, and others walk in memory of a loved one; everyone walks to support the mission of St. Mary’s: to improve the health and quality of life for St. Mary’s children and their families. Learn more about all of our Grand Marshals and their remarkable stories of recovery.

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