MT. VERNON – Right before his third birthday in December, Ayden Powell of Mt. Vernon was diagnosed with a rare disorder known as childhood apraxia of speech (CAS).
The disorder affects young children by making it hard for them to produce “accurate movements when speaking,” states the Mayo Clinic. Children with CAS struggle to develop plans in their brain to direct their speech muscles, leading to difficulty speaking.
Not a great deal is known about the illness, but organizers of an upcoming Walk/Fun Run in Mt. Vernon want to change all that by raising awareness as well as funding for research. The event, to be held in Ayden’s honor, is set to run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 22 at Veterans Memorial Park. Registration is at 8 a.m.
“We’re trying to reach out to other families in the area who have children with this to help build up the awareness. We want to form a support network,” said Anna Coomer of Mt. Vernon, who is coordinating the event with Ayden’s mother, Amanda Powell. “We’re just hoping to raise awareness about children with apraxia of speech so they’ll be given a voice.”
Amanda Powell said her son is responding well to aggressive speech therapy and is able to form some words and sentences. Ayden’s long-term prognosis is unknown, but his family is optimistic.
Powell also has high hopes for the walk, which has already raised $1,500 from pre-registration. The overall fundraising goal is $2,500 and proceeds will benefit the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA). Ayden and three other area children with CAS will attend the event.
“We already have 50 people registered,” Powell said. “(It’s about) getting people together and having a little extra support for families going through this.”
In addition to the walk, the event will feature raffle drawings, a stroller decorating contest, a dog dress-up contest, a balloon release, a cake walk and games for children.
Food donations are still being accepted. For more information on Ayden’s Mt. Vernon Walk/Fun Run for Children with Apraxia of Speech, contact Anna Coomer at 231-0114.