For some parents, spending a Saturday on the sideline of a soccer field is a chore to endure, but for Kerrigan Kaplan and her husband Howard, it’s a dream come true. Their son, Connor, now 4 years old, was born with a clubfoot, a birth defect that renders a child unable to walk when left untreated. But thanks to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Connor is not only walking like his friends…he’s running circles around them.
“Connor is a sports fanatic,” says Kerrigan. “Baseball, soccer, basketball, football…you name it and he’ll play.” Quite an accomplishment considering that at just 1 week old he was fitted for a cast and a series of braces he wore until after his third birthday. “Connor’s condition was discovered when I was 20 weeks pregnant,” his mom says. “Fortunately, we discovered that Dr. Matthew Dobbs, one of the world’s most renowned experts on clubfoot, is at Children’s Hospital.”
Dobbs treated Connor with casting and braces rather than the radical surgeries sometimes suggested. “Although it was a very long road, we felt extraordinarily supported by Dr. Dobbs during our entire journey,” Kerrigan says. “Here you have an internationally known physician who travels all over the world to speak and educate and do research, but who always took time for our family.”
After months of casting, it was time to graduate to a leg brace. “That presented its own set of challenges and would do so for the first three years of Connor’s life. But you would never have known it by talking with him. He was always a happy little boy,” Kerrigan says. Today, she struggles with a different problem. “It’s a challenge to keep him still. He’s absolutely fearless. When we sent him to soccer camp, the coach told us he had skills very advanced for his age. Imagine what that was like to hear…that your son who had spent his whole life in casts or braces had come so far. We are beyond lucky,” she says.