NEAR GRANTS PASS, Ore. – On Valentine’s Day, the heart means different things to different people. For some, it’s a chance to say “I Love You”. For others, it’s the opportunity to celebrate a heart that works.
Hidden Valley High School threw a Valentine’s Day party on Thursday to honor their current and former Sparrows. The school adopted Arion this year as their Sparrow; he has Hunters Syndrome, and has had several surgeries over the year. During the party, the students gave his parents a gift: a date night, with babysitting included.
“I hope they know that we love them and we care about them and we want them to feel nice on special holidays like this,” said JulLeah Aves, a junior at Hidden Valley High School.
Last year’s Sparrow, Lilliana, was also at the party. She has a rare condition called hydrocephalus. As everyone focuses on the heart this Valentine’s Day, some are thinking about health conditions such as hers as a part of Congenital Heart Defects Week, the cause for Bauer’s family.
Bauer White was born with a hole in his heart. The last time NewsWatch 12 met him, he was just 10-months-old and had already had open heart surgery, when he was Saint Mary’s High School’s Sparrow. At the time, he ate through a tube. Now, at 2-and-a-half years old, Bauer is thriving. He hasn’t had a meal through a tube in three weeks, and he’s exclusively eating solid foods in the form of a puree.
“It’s kind of opened up a new world as a family for us to go and do things that we weren’t doing before, because it was hard to take him to a restaurant and have him sit and eat through a pump… versus now, we can go and he can enjoy socializing with us and eating food like the rest of us do when we go out for a quick bite,” said Brandon White, Bauer’s dad.
Bauer is also gaining independence through crawling, climbing, and moving with the help of his scooter. He’s also communicating through sign language. Despite being born with a rare chromosomal abnormality, Bauer’s parents say he has no limitations and is working with speech, physical and occupational therapists to help him catch up to other kids his age. As for his heart, Bauer’s family says he still takes annual trips to OHSU to make sure the repair work is holding up.
His family says memories from Saint Mary’s and Bauer’s time as a Sparrow will never be forgotten. They say it’s still exciting to think about what high school students did for their family…and what students throughout the area continue to do for other Sparrows.