Nick Stratton really knows how to light up a room.
Although his communication is limited, Nick, the 9-year-old son of Bill and Kristy Stratton of Manchester, has an infectious smile and an upbeat personality to go with it. Nick was excited to celebrate QTHON.
He was certainly all smiles when he joined more than 1,700 Quinnipiac University students on the dance floor at the 8th Annual QTHON, a Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon, held Saturday, March 23, on Quinnipiac’s Mount Carmel campus.
QTHON, a yearlong fundraising effort culminating in a 10-hour dance marathon, raised more than $332,000 for Connecticut Children’s. This brings the students’ eight-year cumulative giving total to more than $1 million to benefit patient care at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. To help kids just like Nick.
For Nick, the visits to Connecticut Children’s began when he was about six months of age. “Nick was born premature and spent two weeks in a local neonatal intensive care unit,” Bill said. “Everything was good for the first couple of months.”
That is, until he dropped his head and hit it on the table at a restaurant. And then it happened again at home, prompting a trip to the emergency room at Connecticut Children’s.
“The neurologist came down,” Bill said. “They thought he was having seizures.”
But it turned out to be a very rare kind. Following a three-week hospital stay, Nick was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy called Infantile Spasms. “He would have 20-30 spasms a day,” Bill said. “He wouldn’t cry; he would just shut down.”
“There’s no real manual for this condition,” he added. “After two-and-a-half years, they found the right combination of medicine to help him.”
At its peak, Nick experienced seizures 50-60 times a day, but the biggest occurred when he was 5 years old. “We went into his room at 4 in the morning and he was having a seizure,” Bill said. “We gave him his emergency medicine and called the ambulance to take him to the ER. They couldn’t figure out how to stop it,” he said. “It affected his breathing.”
After some tense moments, the ER staff was able to revive him, and once his heart rate came up, he was admitted to Intensive Care, where he spent the next two-and-a-half weeks.
Turning the Corner
Since then, Nick’s seizures have lessened, but he still regularly visits Connecticut Children’s, where he’s seen in various Divisions and meets with Dr. Jennifer Madan Cohen and her staff. “Nick also has cerebral palsy on his right side, which affects his walking,” his father said. “He also has some developmental issues, so he doesn’t really talk much.”
“But he’s always happy,” Bill said. “He’s a big fan of racing and music, and he loves trumpets.”
“Nick is Nick,” he said. “He’s always paying attention and he participates when he wants to.”
And that holds true for QTHON.
A QTHON Celebration
The 8th Annual QTHON festivities got underway at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, and ended at midnight when the year’s fundraising total of $332,567.12 was revealed with much fanfare.
Joining the students for this year’s festivities were children from 18 Connecticut Children’s patient families, who were matched with student groups. Throughout the evening, the children danced, played games, and participated in arts and crafts.
“Nick enjoyed every aspect of QTHON,” Bill said. “He especially enjoyed interacting with the students of his teams, dancing, playing basketball, bowling and sharing a whole bunch of smiles in the process!”
Each year, the Quinnipiac students outdo themselves in raising money and awareness for Connecticut Children’s. In 2018, they broke records, raising $256,431.79, a 22 percent increase over the previous year.
By the end of the evening on March 23, 2019, QTHON’s cumulative giving to Connecticut Children’s over an eight-year period totaled $1,052,255.87.
“What the Quinnipiac University students have achieved in a just a few years is remarkable,” said Jim Shmerling, DHA, FACHE, President and CEO of Connecticut Children’s. “These students have opened their hearts to the children and families we serve at Connecticut Children’s. They are an inspiration to us all, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their passion and dedication to our mission.”
“We really appreciate the effort the students put in,” Bill agreed. “It’s great to see that there is a lot of good out there. These students could be doing many other things, and they choose to support patient care at Connecticut Children’s. They have their hearts in the right spot.”
“And we’re grateful to have Connecticut Children’s so close to home,” Bill added. “We’ve realized that we have been fortunate to have Connecticut Children’s there every step of the way. They continue to provide Nick with the care he needs, and it gives us the comfort knowing he is in the right hands.”
To learn more about upcoming events in support of Connecticut Children’s, please visit our Featured Events page.