Toddler with rare brain defect defies odds, takes first steps

U.S. & World

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (KARK/WFLA) — A toddler diagnosed with a rare brain condition is taking big steps toward beating the odds. 

Maverick Sumners was born with a rare brain defect called Chiari Malformation. There is no cure for the defect. His mother, Jessica Sumners, says doctors told her and husband their son may never walk. 

However, the 20-month-old had other plans, taking his first steps last weeks. 

“He is such a fighter,” Sumners said.  “He just took 10 steps by himself and it was like I was just fighting back tears. I have cried many, many hours and I’ve taken him to tons of therapy appointments and doctors appointments.”

The toddler has been in and out of the hospital, with Sumners making the trek to Arkansas Children’s Hospital multiple times a month. She says the brain defect causes Maverick to experience debilitating headaches and developmental delays. 

“His brain kind of goes down toward the spinal cord and into it a little bit,” she explained. “He will never be able to ride on roller coasters or jump on trampolines or play contact sports, but that’s OK. We’re going to be that family that plays a lot of golf.”

Last summer, Maverick underwent brain surgery to relieve some of his symptoms. Sumners believes that was key to helping her son reach a true toddler milestone and take his first steps. 

“It was the best day ever,” she said, remembering watching Maverick walk for the first time. “I want him to live his life to the fullest and do everything he could possibly do.”

Even though Maverick will likely need more brain surgeries, Sumners says the family is taking every day in stride and celebrating every step forward.

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