Columbia Families Unite to Find a Cure for the Leading Cause of Brain Surgery in Children

Will take part in the Columbia WALK to End Hydrocephalus on Sept. 29

Wyatt Jeffrey Gable is not even a year old, but he’s already endured eight brain surgeries. The 10-month-old was born with hydrocephalus, a chronic neurological condition that has no cure and can only be treated with brain surgery. His parents, Austin and Brooke Gable, are determined to find a cure for their son’s condition, which despite affecting over 1 million Americans, gets little public attention and not enough research dollars. That’s why they’re joining hundreds of local families at the Columbia WALK to End Hydrocephalus on Sept. 29 at the Villages at Sandhill.

“It’s so hard to watch your tiny baby lay in a hospital bed knowing he is about to have brain surgery. By participating in the walk, I hope I can help spread awareness and get us closer to finding a cure for this condition,” says Wyatt’s mom Brooke.

This is the first time Brook, Wyatt, and dad Austin will participate in the Columbia WALK to End Hydrocephalus, one of 43 Hydrocephalus Association WALKS held across the country to raise critical funds for the Hydrocephalus Association’s education, support, and research efforts. All 43 HA WALKs are 100 percent volunteer-led by dedicated members of the hydrocephalus community.

The Gable family formed a team, named Wyatt’s Warriors, and will walk with family and friends.

Jessica Caulder knows how scary it is to hand your baby over to the doctor for brain surgery. Her 11-year-old daughter, Emma, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at 9 months old and has undergone 8 brain surgeries. To bring families together who are impacted by this condition, Jessica started the Columbia WALK to End Hydrocephalus six years ago.

“When Emma was first diagnosed, it was tough because we had never heard about this condition and had no support system outside of immediate family. Emma felt alone since she didn’t know anyone else with hydrocephalus. Eventually we discovered the Hydrocephalus Association and they helped us, giving us resources and connecting us to local families facing the same challenges,” explained Jessica. “Handing your baby over to the neurosurgeon for brain surgeries never gets easier, but through the walk we know we’re helping to make things better for our child and others living with hydrocephalus.”

The Columbia WALK to End Hydrocephalus unites families from across South Carolina. The event will include a number of fun activities for kids, games and a DJ.

One in every 770 babies develops hydrocephalus, a complex, life-threatening condition marked by excess accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain. However, anyone at any time can develop hydrocephalus from a brain injury, tumor, or infection, and some people over 60 develop Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, which is often, misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s, dementia or Parkinson’s. The primary treatment for hydrocephalus is the insertion of a device called a shunt –a small tube and a connected valve – into the brain to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid to another part of the body. Shunts save lives, but frequently malfunction, become infected, or blocked. It is not uncommon for a person with hydrocephalus to have ten or more shunt-related brain surgeries throughout their lifetime, and some individuals will undergo more than 100 surgical procedures. Each surgery brings with it the risk of unknown long-term cognitive and health effects, and hydrocephalus can be fatal.

Local sponsors for the 2018 Columbia WALK to End Hydrocephalus include Munchkin Ink, Jumpbunch, Harbor Inn Seafood Restaurant, Wild Wing Cafe, V.S. Photography, DJ T Mix, Mod Pizza, Big Woo Radio, The UPS Store, Mobay’s Legacy, Dark Castle, and GRT. National sponsors for the Hydrocephalus Association WALK program are Medtronic; Aesculap; Codman, an Integra Lifesciences Company; and Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group.

On-site registration and check-in for the Columbia WALK to End Hydrocephalus begins at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 29 and the WALK begins at 10:00 a.m. 

About the Hydrocephalus Association  

Founded in 1983 by the parents of children with hydrocephalus, the Hydrocephalus Association (HA) is the nation’s largest and most widely respected organization dedicated to hydrocephalus. More than 60 percent of HA’s funding comes from individual donations, and approximately 35 percent comes from foundation and corporate grants. HA began funding research in 2009 and has since granted over $7 million to research, making it the largest non-profit and non-governmental funder of hydrocephalus research in the United States. The Hydrocephalus Association’s mission is to promote a cure for hydrocephalus and improve the lives of those affected by the condition.