Hayden McCurdy - The source of inspiration for Team Miles for Smiles
Hayden Grace McCurdy has a smile that will light up a room. She has never met a stranger and will draw a person into her world through her happy spirit. Yet this little 2-½ year old has battled more obstacles than most adults.
Severe reflux caused Hayden to struggle with eating and breathing issues throughout her first year of life. She suffered developmental delays and constant sickness, yet her pediatrician dismissed it, feeling her issues would resolve by the age of two. Fortunately for Hayden, her physical therapist urged us to see a neurologist she highly respected. Within minutes, the neurologist identified Hayden’s happy demeanor as a possible sign of her soon to be confirmed diagnosis.
Hayden, like all angels (as we call our children with Angelman’s Syndrome), can not speak. She struggles to learn even basic sign language because of her processing and lack of fine motor coordination, yet her deep blue eyes can convey a thousand, usually playfully happy, thoughts.
Hayden is not walking independently and her stubborn side refuses to try to use a walker or other assistive device. She likes learning things the hard way, with her own unique style (when she was younger, she learned how to sit up from lying on her back by doing a full abdominal crunch rather than using her arms to help). She is a curious little girl and because of her silent nature, you usually don’t know what she is getting into until a loud crash is heard. She can crawl faster than most can walk, climbs stairs like a cat, and cruises along furniture to investigate all of those items that used to be just out of reach.
Hayden sees the world though a pure innocence. She loves people, music, dancing and life. For those who meet her, they know they truly have been touched by an angel.
Coach and Angel Mom
Deanna has been a runner for over 20 years, beginning in high school with track, running cross country in a small, Midwest Division I college, an even serving as assistant coach while completing my studies there. Yet, if you asked her if she loved running, she would laugh. She knew God gave her a talent, but did not know why. After college Deanna continued to run, racing distances from a 5K up to the marathon. She even helped coach groups training for their 1st 10K, the Peachtree Road Race, and a local “Girls On the Run” team.
Deanna's husband, David, introduced her to mountain biking and adventure racing. They tease about the phrase “that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. Trust us, 2 very competitive people lost in the woods who happen to be married, will either kill the relationship or make it tougher than nails. Fortunately for them, the latter applies. Little did they know their years of training, racing, and pushing themselves beyond their comfort level were only preparing them for the life ahead once one little girl entered it.
When asked about her recent racing success, Deanna says "Funny, now that I have 2 little girls, one with special needs, I train (and sleep) much less than most athletes, yet I am finally truly excelling in my pursuits. I credit my abilities and success to God and my little angel. God gave me a talent, now my angel is showing me what to do with it. I truly love every step I take out on the paths, thinking about her - sometimes in anguish, other times filled with light-hearted joy – but forever grateful for the gift I have been given."
Deanna looks forward to helping others attempt to achieve goals as their coach and cheerleader. She thinks that is the least she can do for their help in the quest for a cure for her sweet children. Deanna is as strong-willed as they come. She believes with her whole heart that the finish line of this race is in sight and one day Hayden and other Angelman children will be able to tell their moms they love them with their own voice. That would be the greatest victory of all.