Dog days finally here for Kaylee HalkoWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | email@example.com
A small, tan dog trotted across the lawn of the Halko home. Ears flopping, he was adorable as he walked with a certain swagger. Not far behind was the equally adorable Kaylee, who had that same confidence in her step.
“Louie can do some tricks,” she said, opening a pack of training treats.
She put the pooch through his paces — sit, stand up.
“The whole family went [to the Toledo Humane Society] to pick him out around my birthday,” the 10-year-old said. “I knew he was the one.”
It didn’t take long for the Halkos to name the silky terrier-Pomeranian mix. Jacob, 12, suggested Gold Digger; T.J., 15, offered Leo. When Kaylee said Louie, everyone agreed.
“I finally caved in and got Kaylee and the boys a dog. They’ve been asking for years,” said Tim, their dad. “So far, Louie has been great.”
Except that day at the bus stop.
“Louie peed on Kaylee’s book bag on the first day of school. We all got a kick out of that except Kaylee,” their mom, Marla, said and laughed. “I told her not to put the bag down by the bush. And the bus was there — nothing you could do but wipe it off in the dew on the grass.”
Wanting to change the subject, the Monclova Primary School fourth-grader did a trick. “Watch,” Kaylee said, then proceeded to stand on her head.
Baseball was next as Brendan, 13, pitched to his sister, who hit line drives and grounders.
She’s still taking dance — cheer, hip-hop and jazz. And karate starts again soon for the yellow belt, who is a Taylor Swift fan.
Kaylee also continues to participate in a triple drug trial through the Progeria Research Foundation. She is one of 22 children in the country with the rare genetic condition characterized by rapid aging.
“I really do think the drugs are working,” Tim said. “Kaylee is doing great, and we know many kids who are doing great way past the age of 13.”
Last year, the Halkos learned results from the first drug trial Kaylee participated in from 2007-09. Children in the study showed improvements in weight gain, bone structure and the cardiovascular system.
“You never know what’s going to happen for your child when you start a drug trial, and it’s just been quite a success,” said Audrey Gordon, president and executive director of the Progeria Research Foundation. “And for our supporters, they see that we are making progress, that their support is really making the difference in these children’s lives.”
To help raise funds for the foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to discovering treatments and a cure, the Halkos will hold the eighth annual Kaylee’s Course on Oct. 12 at Monclova Primary School, 8035 Monclova Road. The 5K run/2-mile walk begins at 10 a.m.
The cost is $15 if registered by Oct. 1 or $20 the day of the race. Register on Facebook at groups.to/sweetkaylee or on-site at 9 a.m. Children 10 and younger are free.
“Kaylee drew the shirt this year,” Marla said.
“I drew my shoe,” she said, showing the sneaker that’s almost as colorful as she is.
There will also be a silent auction and raffle at the event.
Tim and Marla are looking for silent auction items and sponsorships. Contact them at (419) 878-3231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“There’s not a lot of kids with progeria, so for us to get out there and raise funds, it really makes a difference,” Marla said.
“We think the Progeria Research Foundation is headed in the right direction and eventually will find a cure,” Tim said. “We’re trying to make sure that kids like Kaylee and Carly live long enough to see that day.”