GLENDALE— Seven-year-old La Crescenta resident Gavin Dinger was a stroke survivor even before he was born.
Gavin suffered a stroke while he was inside his mother’s womb. Only after he was born did doctors discover the stroke when his parents, Richard and Heather Dinger, noticed that Gavin had difficultly picking up items with his right hand as a baby.
“As a parent, it’s heartbreaking when things happen to your kids,” Richard Dinger said.
As a result of the in-utero stroke, Gavin has undergone extensive physical, occupational and speech therapy to repair the damage done by the stroke, which affected the right side of his body.
And while years of therapy may be daunting for some 7-year-olds, his mother said Gavin is like any other boy who enjoys playing sports and staying active.
“He takes things in stride,” Gavin’s father said.
Gavin most looks forward to participating in the Downtown Dash, an annual 5K run and walk that is sponsored by the Glendale News-Press and that benefits Glendale Adventist Medical Center’s stroke services.
Walking long distances has been challenging for Gavin. So, when he participates in the event, his parents have carried him on their backs, or he sits in a jogging stroller.
But this year will be different. Gavin is planning to walk the entire course.
“We are just going to take it slow,” Heather Dinger said.
The course starts in front of the Alex Theatre on the 200 block of Brand Boulevard, loops around the Americana at Brand and returns to the theater.
For the past two years, friends, family and community members have donated $8,120 on behalf of Gavin.
So far this year, Gavin’s team has raised $3,865, but members are striving for $5,000 before Sunday’s event.
More than 1,000 people are participating in this year’s event, up 23% from last year, said Alicia Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the medical center.
Organizers are expecting another 500 people to sign up for the dash on Sunday, she said.
Money raised for the dash pays for community lectures about strokes, and for technology and screenings in the hospital’s Certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center.
What: Glendale News-Press Downtown Dash
When: 7 a.m. Sunday
Where: Downtown Glendale, 216 N. Brand Blvd.
Contact: To donate to Gavin’s team, visit www.gavindinger.com. Registration will also start at 7 a.m. Sunday.