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Meet Jarrad: Wheelchair Athlete and Challenge for Hope Participant

On December 8, Give Kids The World Village will transform into a course unlike any other during Challenge For Hope. Hundreds of participants will arrive at the Village, ready to make a difference for the critically ill children we serve. For one of those supporters, the mission of Give Kids Then World hits incredibly close to home.

Born with spina bifida, Jarrad Walker has had a challenging journey. In 2012, after battling numerous bacterial infections, he was put into a medically induced coma with no signs of recovery. After nearly three months, he was brought out of his coma, but doctors discovered his hip joints had fused and were completely immobile.

He was faced with two options: undergoing numerous painful surgeries and rehab without a guarantee of recovery, or amputation. Jarrad, his family, and his doctors decided to amputate both legs.

“I felt like that was it,” said Jarrad. “I wasn’t going to be able to do anything else.”

But thanks to an incredible support team, Jarrad found a way to stay active and began participating in 5Ks throughout Florida. On December 8, he’ll be racing into Give Kids The World Village, ready to motivate our wish kids during Challenge for Hope.

The race invites participants to walk, run, roll or stroll along a 5K course through the Village. It’s a chance for participants to raise money for our brave kids and families and see firsthand what they experience while they’re here for a week.

“I want to show kids and families that even though it’s hard, they can still do anything they set their mind to,” he says. “They can still do things like everyone else, they just need to keep reaching for their goals and never give up.”

Jarrad’s mom Cheryl spoke about his determination and what it was like as their family faced the challenges of his illness.

“It was hard, even heartbreaking at times, being his motivator over the years … wanting to empathize and not push too hard,” she said. “But when kids say they want to try something – it’s important to keep backing them.”

We’re so excited to welcome Jarrad to the Village on December 8 and we’d love to see you, too! Click here to learn more about Challenge for Hope, donate to a Challenger like Jarrad, or register to participate.


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