9-Year-Old is Going the Distance for Children Like Her

When Xochitl Vargas was a toddler, her parents feared that she may never walk.

Step by step, Xochitl, now 9, has beaten the odds. Last year, she walked 3.1 miles through downtown Washington DC, finishing the 5K at the 2015 Race for Every Child. Her parents and siblings were by her side; her teacher and other supporters cheered from the sidelines.

It was the farthest she had ever walked.

“I really felt like I could do anything,” she said after completing the race.

Xochitl has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder affecting muscle control and coordination in her legs. She walks with the help of a walker, leg braces, and her personal determination.

Yet, without the doctors at Children’s National, these steps might not be possible.

When she was just 3 years old, Children’s National doctors performed a spinal surgery to relax her legs and possibly allow her to walk. At the time, she was the youngest person to ever receive this surgery, but Xochitl’s doctors and family were confident that she could handle the surgery and recovery, which required her to lay still and facedown for 48 hours.

The surgery proved successful, and less than a year later, Xochitl was walking on her own.

Her determination and optimism, the support of family and friends, and her team at Children’s National have helped Xochitl thus far, and at the 2016 Race for Every Child on Oct. 1, she wants to go even further.

During Xochitl’s 45-day stay at Children’s National following her surgery, she met patients whose families couldn’t pay for their care, and she wanted to help. So when Xochitl learned about the Race for Every Child—which raises money to ensure that all Children’s National patients receive the best treatment possible, regardless of their family’s ability to pay—she made sure her whole family signed up.

Last year, Xochitl helped to raise $850 for the race. This year, her goal is to raise $5,000 for Children’s National and the thousands of children who benefit from the hospital’s care each year.

Thousands of community members—including Children’s National doctors, nurses, patients, and their friends and families—will join Xochitl at the 2016 Race for Every Child to help children receive the care they deserve. The race, which includes a 5K and 100-yard Kids’ Dash, is Saturday, Oct. 1 at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC. Register online today!

We don’t want kids like Xochitl to just grow up, we want them to grow up stronger!

Read WTOP’s full-length story on Xochitl to learn more about her experiences at Children’s National and last year’s race.

Visit raceforeverychild.org to support participants like Xochitl and her family or sign up to participate in this year’s Race for Every Child.

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