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April 22, 2003

WalkAmerica to be led by local child

From: Hannibal Courier Post, MO - Apr 22, 2003

Of the Courier-Post

With hands the size of a nickel, Caden Friedlein could fit in the palm of his mother's hand when he was born.

Caden is the star in this year's Ambassador Family for the March of Dimes Hannibal WalkAmerica, Saturday, April 26, where he will lead the parade.

Small and frail, weighing 2 pounds and 3 ounces, Caden came into the world three months early after only 25 weeks of gestation. His weight dropped to 1 pound and 14 ounces in a month.

Born to Amy Krigbaum and Shawn Friedlein at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Ill., on Jan. 3, 2002, Caden was immediately flown to a Springfield, Ill., hospital where he spent the first three months of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

"It was touch and go for awhile," said Krigbaum. "He was so little we didn't get to hold him until he was a month old. When he was fed it would be a nippleful at a time. It was so hard at first. I cried and didn't know what to do. I just prayed to God and knew He wouldn't give me something He didn't think I could handle."

With his strong will to survive and a lot of fight in him, today Caden's a healthy, happy and active 15-month old who's struggle to live is over. His hospital life consisted of tubes and surgeries.

"In the first two months he had four surgeries on his intestines," said Krigbaum. "He had to have a PDA valve on the outside of his heart which was clamped. Medicine was tried first, but didn't work. He had a colostomy for the first six weeks to keep him from swelling and was on a ventilator for a month. After being taken off for four hours he had to go back on. There were also some eye problems which nearly required surgery."

With a hearing impairment which is corrected with hearing aids, there is moderate hearing loss. "The inside of his ears might not have formed completely," said Krigbaum. "Without the aids he has severe hearing loss."

If Caden's a fighter, so are his parents, who drove every day to Springfield for three months while balancing jobs. "This has definitely been a challenge," said Krigbaum. "Thank God for mom, family and friends who have helped in this stressful situation." Krigbaum continues to drive to St. Louis once a week where Caden attends the Central Institute for the Deaf.

"When he is 2, he will attend school two days a week," she said. "At 3, he will attend full-time, five days a week. He also receives physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy through Hannibal Regional Hospital. The First Steps program is also working with Caden and he may attend public school at some stage. The teachers say he is doing amazing work and they are proud of him."

Celebrating his first birthday a few months ago, Krigbaum said Caden had a big party, but was more interested in the wrapping paper than the presents. "He loves to play and runs all over the house," she said. "He really loves the oudoors, plants and trees. When he sees them he gets excited and his little hands really start going. He will enjoy the walk."

Working with the March of Dimes, Krigbaum has been helping raise money for the organization. "We feel honored to be chosen as the Ambassador Family," she said. "This is a wonderful organization which helps premature babies, and Caden definitely fits. We've had it all, but there was nothing we did wrong and nothing we could do to prevent it from happening.

"You don't have to go through this by yourself," said Krigbaum. "There is the March of Dimes and a lot of people who are willing to help."

All contents Copyright 2003 The Hannibal Courier-Post and Morris Digital Works.