PIGGOTT, AR (KAIT) - Grayden Dalton, the 2016 UCP SuperStar, is a survivor. At 7 years old, he has faced more medical problems than some adults will face in a lifetime.
"It's amazing, seven years later, the stuff we've learned," Brian Dalton, Grayden's father said.
A healthy pregnancy and normal delivery of a precious baby boy revealed no warning signs of trouble.
"Then life threw something at us that we never expected in a million years," Christina Dalton, Grayden's mother said.
"Everything was fine and then all of a sudden, he just started crying," Brian said. "It didn't stop and it got worse and it got worse."
The Daltons spoke in detail of the long odyssey they have been on in search of answers including repeated doctor's visits and sleepless days and nights.
It was a never-ending search for what could be wrong with Grayden.
"I had my moments when I broke down and cried and would be like, 'What's wrong with our baby?'"
It would take years before doctors could unwind and understand all of the medical problems Grayden faced. But, Grayden suffered a seizure.
"The seizure was what done the damage," Christina said.
"The underlying condition has caused the symptoms of cerebral palsy," Vicki Lewallen, Grayden's former case manager from the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services. Lewallen helped coordinate Grayden's care for seven years. That care involved numerous trips to specialty doctors in Arkansas and Tennessee.
During that time, it was discovered that Grayden not only had cerebral palsy, but also a dopamine deficiency and a perforated bowel.
Perforation can allow intestinal contents to enter the abdominal cavity, resulting in pain.
"It was tough because there was so much we didn't know," Brian said.
Since then, UCP has stepped up to help the family.
"They purchased a specialty adaptive stroller that he used before he got his new wheelchair," Lewallen said. "All that equipment is specialized for children with special health needs and Medicaid insurance does not cover the cost of that."
"We try to keep his extremities stretched and work on range of motion," Rose Dalton, Grayden's physical therapist assistant said as she ran the little boy through a series of exercises outside of his wheelchair.
"Heads up, Grayden!" Rose encouraged Grayden. "It's amazing the effort these people go through to help families like us," Brian said.
When he's not helping Christina drive Grayden to doctors' appointments, he works as a contractor.
"They have helped us five or six times with things we've needed," Christina said. "UCP paid for a specialty seat that is used when he gets out of his wheelchair," Lewallen said.
No longer in pain, Grayden can enjoy life.
"When SpongeBob would come on, his face would just light up," Nicky Dalton, Grayden's sister said.
"He is such a happy boy now," Brian said. "Just full of smiles!"
To ensure that more children and adults like Grayden get the services and equipment they need, make a pledge to United Cerebral Palsy from noon until 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 24. Watch the broadcast live on KAIT-TV.
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