8th Annual Comer Kids' Classic 5K Run, Walk and Kids' Dash

$97K raised at 8th Annual Comer Kids' Classic

600+ participants at University of Chicago Hyde Park Campus

October 4, 2010

More than 600 people turned out on Sunday, October 3, for the Comer Kids' Classic, a USATF-certified 5K course race through beautiful Hyde Park.

Among the participants are two families who have known each other for years whose newborns' lives were both saved at Comer Children's Hospital -- five years apart to the day.

Shortly after birth, Ryan Vahl, who is now 5 years old, developed pulmonary hypertension from a bacterial infection that caused him to go into respiratory distress. He was rushed to Comer Children's Hospital and treated with ECMO (a heart-lung bypass machine), which is found only at pediatric hospitals offering the highest level of care. The high-tech equipment, along with the expert care of his devoted pediatric specialists, aided Ryan's rapid recovery.

"Today Ryan is a very active kindergartner who plays soccer and loves the Blackhawks," says his mom Erin. "Amazingly, he has no residual effects from his rough start in life. We were at the Kids' Classic to show our support for the amazing medical team at Comer, and for families like our friends Michele and Joe Vida."

Erin's husband, Matt, and Joe Vida have been friends since childhood and the couples are close. Five years to the day after Baby Ryan had his near fatal infection, the Vidas' son Cole was airlifted from an Indiana hospital to Comer Children's Hospital.

Shortly after birth, and while the Vidas were awaiting final approval from an Indiana court to bring their adopted son home to LaGrange, Ill., Cole began to suffer from massive blood clots that shut down his kidneys. His parents rushed him to the local hospital ER. That hospital was not able to stabilize the newborn so he was airlifted to Comer Children's Hospital.  

In short order Cole was diagnosed at Comer Children's Hospital with bilateral renal vein thrombosis, a very rare and unusual condition for a newborn.  

"Cole was acutely ill when he arrived at Comer and no one thought he would survive the night," says Joe. "They did not know the cause at the time and were scrambling to do anything they could to stabilize him. They performed surgery to install a catheter, which he still has in his abdomen." Once he was stable, the staff began an aggressive therapy of liquid nutrients and Heparin infusions to halt the blood clotting. The therapies were successful but Cole remains chronically ill.

Today, at four months, Cole is responding well to dialysis but doctors are watchful of any new clots or seizure activity. He was recently added to the pediatric kidney transplant list. "Cole still has a long road ahead, but with prayers and the great minds at Comer, he will be starting kindergarten five years after Ryan," says Michele.

Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago is built upon a rich tradition of excellence in pediatric care, deeply impacting the patients and families served. The hospital provides care for families as close as Hyde Park and as far away as China.

Dedicated to advancing pediatric research, funds raised through the Comer Kids' Classic support groundbreaking research and programs led by our talented medical students and fellows.