Student recognized for raising thousands


LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Cheers of joy rang out Friday for 7-year-old Gavin Dinger, who received an honorary award from Glendale Adventist Medical Center for raising more than $15,000 over the past three years for the hospital’s stroke services department.

Gavin suffered a stroke while he was inside his mother’s womb, which affected the right side of his body. He has undergone speech, occupational and physical therapy to repair the harm caused by the stroke.

But he still makes time for school, sports and raising money for fellow stroke survivors.

The hospital recognized Gavin’s efforts and honored him with “The Gavin Award,” which will be given to community members who raise more than $5,000 for the Glendale Downtown Dash, the annual run and walk event that raises funds for the hospital’s stroke services department.

“This is a very, very special award for a very special boy,” said Helen McDonagh, president of the Downtown Glendale Merchants Assn.

Gavin stood proudly onstage and in front of his fellow classmates at St. Bede the Venerable School in La Cañada Flintridge as he received the award.

Gavin said he would display the award on a top shelf in his bedroom, “so nobody touches it.”

Gavin and his family, who live in La Crescenta, have made it their mission for the past three years to participate and fundraise for the event.

“We will always be involved, but hopefully this will encourage other individuals and businesses to get involved, since it’s going to recognize people who raise more than $5,000, and that’s important,” Gavin’s mother, Heather Dinger, said. “That’s why are involved — is to perpetuate the success of the center.”

About 130 families donated a collective $5,700 on behalf of Gavin for this year’s event.

Money raised for the Downtown Dash pays for technology and screenings in the hospital’s Certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center, in addition to community lectures.

Gavin receives some of his physical therapy at the hospital, which has a stroke alert team to respond to emergencies around the clock.

Doctors discovered Gavin’s stroke after his parents noticed that he had difficultly picking up items with his right hand as a baby.

“He is setting an example,” said Gautam Kulkarni, the hospital’s director of Neuroscience Services. “He is telling people that despite whatever adversity might come in life, you have to keep your head up and move forward and accept the new normal.”