It was six years ago that Jackie Davidson and Mia Padron met.
The Suffolk County mothers share something in common. Both of their sons, Jordan, 11 and Tyler, 9 suffer from hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of spinal fluid in the brain.
At the sixth annual Long Island Hydrocephalus Walk in Belmont State Park on Sunday, Padron and Davidson, co-chairs for the organization, met once again along with hundreds of others to raise money and awareness for the neurological condition.
Last year, they raised $40,000.
"This is our passion to make people aware and raise money for treatment,” said Padron, of Centereach. “Medical bills can run thousands of dollars."
Davidson found out about the disorder while 34 weeks pregnant. The Commack woman had never heard of hydrocephalus prior to being diagnosed. Once she researched it, she was stunned by the grim outlook.
But through family support and Dr. Richard Schneider, co-chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, the outlook became brighter.
Schneider was more than happy to participate in the yearly event.
"This walk is critical on several levels – it provides educational resources, brings awareness and it provides a support group for so many families," he said.
At just a day old, Davidson’s son Jordan had brain surgery to put in a cerebral shunt which drains the fluid from the brain. Throughout his lifetime, Jordan, now 11, has undergone five operations.
Attending school regularly, Jordan lives his life to the fullest, according to Davidson.
"You would never know that Jordan has been through so much,” she said. “The only thing we are dealing with now are headaches that he gets from time to time and his memory.”
Padron's son, Tyler, was diagnosed when he was 23 months old.
"I knew as a mother that something wasn't right,” she said. “He wasn't reaching his milestones. Tyler was 23 months old when he had his first surgery. Between 23 months and five years old, he had five brain surgeries."
Tyler was thrilled to participate in the annual event.
"I feel good,” he said. “I am having a great time here.”
Renee Newton and her daughter Kaliha Newton, 21, of Queens couldn’t agree more.
This was their first time at the walk and they appreciated the tremendous support they received. Like so many others, Renee Newton had never heard of hydrocephalus until it affected her life. She learned about the condition two weeks before giving birth to her daughter.
Kaliha Newton has undergone nine surgeries since birth.
"This is our first time coming here. We found out about the walk through Facebook,” she said. “It is very important for us to be here and it means so much. A lot of people don't understand what hydrocephalus is. It is great to be surrounded by so many supportive people."