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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Former Pediatric Patients to Lead Go the Distance Walk and Family Fun Day

Hundreds of former patients, families, and hospital staff will gather on our Valhalla campus for annual reunions and an afternoon of cameraderie

news item

Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) and the children’s hospital for the Hudson Valley and Fairfield County has named three inspiring former patients –– Jose “Armani” Curet, 11, of Sleepy Hollow, Joy Degl, 6, of Mahopac, and Adriana Pratt, 8, of Danbury, as ambassadors for the 14th annual Go the Distance Walk and Family Fun Day, representing the pediatric patients cared for at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.  The annual event benefits Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and celebrates the health and fortitude of its remarkable patients.

Held this year on September 16, the event is Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital’s largest annual fundraiser and draws thousands of former patients, families, staff, and supportive community members from around the region. Following a casual one-mile walk around the hospital’s campus – the event’s signature procession led by the ambassadors – participants will enjoy a morning filled with fun activities for the whole family.  

Among the thousands of participants at this year’s Go the Distance Walk and Family Fun Day event will be hundreds of former hospital patients and families returning to the hospital for annual reunions, including Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital’s Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which will host unit graduate for the 36th consecutive year.

Meet the 2018 Go the Distance Walk and Family Fun Day Ambassadors (L-R: Joy Degl, Armani Curet, Adriana Pratt)

It started with headaches and progressed to “staring seizures.” Sometimes, the now 11-year-old Armani Curet forgot entire parts of his day. At first Armani’s doctors thought he had a brain tumor, but an MRI at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital revealed that Armani had a rare condition called an ateriovenous malformation, a tangle of abnormal blood vessels in the brain.  These tangles can burst, causing dangerous brain bleeds and stroke-like symptoms.

Armani was taken into surgery at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital within a matter of days. His surgery was successful and now Armani has returned to enjoying all the things he loves, including baseball
.

Joy Degl’s story is a triumph over extreme prematurity and complex medical challenges. She was born at 23 weeks and weighed a mere one pound, four ounces. She spent 121 days in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, where the region’s tiniest and sickest newborns are cared. Joy battled bravely as she spent the first four months of her life tethered to breathing and feeding tubes.

Today Joy is a happy, healthy preschooler. As one of three Go the Distance Walk and Family Fun Day ambassadors, Joy will help represent
the more than 30,000 seriously ill and injured children cared for each year by Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and its services. 

Just three days after she was born, Adriana Pratt was diagnosed with a rare, potentially fatal congenital heart condition: Tetralogy of Fallot, distinguished by four defects in the heart’s structure. Known as “blue baby syndrome” because the baby’s skin has a bluish tint from a lack of oxygen, the only cure is open-heart surgery.

At only 6 months old, Adriana underwent nine hours of life-saving surgery at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). The defects were repaired. Today, at age 8, Adriana is an active second-grader who loves to dress up and dance. She dreams of becoming a dentist and a race car driver.

To learn more about the Go the Distance Walk and Family Fun Day, including how community members can participate and support advanced pediatric healthcare in the region, please visit events.westchestermedicalcenter.com/GTD18.

Participants can stay up-to-date on event news and share their event-day experiences via social media by using the hashtag #GoTheDistance.