Skanda’s Story by Sabitha Raghuraman Balaji

Skanda was born to us as a blessing at the Women’s Hospital in Greensboro, NC after 12 years of our wedlock filled with emotions and perseverance. We were too excited for the birth of the tiny-tot and little did we knew that he had an extra gift from God, the 21st chromosome!

Special ones get special gifts from the Lord, isn’t it true??? Doctors made a diagnosis after delivery and broke the ice about the mystery of the 21st chromosome to daddy at the hospital…

Until then the term “Down syndrome” was mythical to us!!

It was quite hard for Skanda’s Daddy to share the information initially. His heavy shoulders guarded the secret for a month until the K-Test confirmed the diagnosis and the entire family was informed about it only after the test results were out!!!!!

We named him Skanda as per our family Guru of Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Sri Bharathi Theertha Mahaswamigal’s advice & blessings…

Skanda means the “Warrior Prince” which he is aptly in the true sense…he fought his own battles relentlessly across a myriad of obstacles…

Two major diagnoses in the heart ASD and PDA were vanquished in no time without any medical intervention!!

As days progressed, the initial worries were transformed into joy. Skanda with his glowing smile and “Cute Syndrome” started shining. We knew that we would not be able to keep up with the regular milestones of growth but we never gave up …

Skanda then made his big trip across continents to India when he was 8 months old, where he got to meet people from different cultures, visit various temples and also experience the warmth of both maternal & paternal grandparents.

It had a very positive effect on him. We also celebrated his 1st birthday with much fan-fare as per our Hindu “tam-brahm” Vedic traditions.

Once we were back in America, Skanda started using the walker for walking when he was about 2 and a half years old and we gradually increased the steps from 15 to 1500. At this point the walker was no longer a necessity… PT sessions confirmed that he was ready to walk without support.

In Apr 2021, we decided to take Skanda out to the park for a walk. We visited Apex Community Park and it was very chilly in the morning at 45 degrees. Skanda on seeing another baby girl walking, started to walk fast … That’s it and then there was no turning back… Master Hiker was in the making!

With the pandemic, evening time was dedicated only for family hikes.

We started with the Apex community park, then moved to other state parks in the vicinity. We discovered about the “Kids In Parks” website and there began the motivation.

Rain or Shine…Skanda’s hiking continued from 0.25 Mile to 1.5 miles per day on different terrains and in the woods. He finished 60 (1 mile hikes) in a span of 4-5 months! That was an amazing feat given the challenges that he had…Skanda was honored as the “Hiker of the Month” on the “Kids In Parks” website in Nov’21!

He also got an opportunity to participate in the “Runway of Dreams” fashion show hosted by the Duke Chapter. The video was streamed on YouTube in Feb’21.

Skanda had a fantastic pre-K from 2020-2022. He has always been the darling of all his teachers and graduated with flying colors. He is currently enrolled in the Regional Kindergarten program at Salem Elem, Apex.

Not a day goes without him… He will always remain the apple of our eyes and has filled our lives with so much Joy & Happiness in ways that cannot be described.

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