Kaden Koscoe is your normal 7-year old.
He loves hanging out with his friends, playing baseball and he's not looking forward to going back to school.
However, there's so much more to the Union Local second grader that you'd never know.
Just two years ago, Koscoe was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called Chiari Malformation, which affects just 300,000 people in the United States.
"It's a brain condition, which causes many symptoms," said Kaden's mother Kara. "It affects all of your fine motor skills."
According to his mom, Kaden was "kind of delayed" as a baby in terms of talking or walking.
"It was nothing that set any alarms off for us as parents," Kara said. "He finally got those things and was keeping up, so it didn't send any red flags up for us."
The disorder - which most are born with - was discovered when Kaden was having trouble eating and was then experiencing severe headaches."We took him to the doctors and they decided to do a MRI," Kara said. "He was really specific about the headaches being behind his eyes and it was from all of the pressure on his brain."
After looking at the results of the MRI, the doctors here in the Ohio Valley sent Kaden to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus for further examination.
"It was horrible to hear the news," Kara said. "As a mom, I had a feeling that something wasn't right, but you pray that everything was okay. When his doctor at Wheeling Hospital called us and said he needed us to come to his office, it was just a severe sick feeling in your stomach."
Within a month of his referal, it was deemed that Kaden would have to undergo a five-hour brain surgery to relieve the pressure on both the brain and spine, which is caused by the cerebullum descending out of the skull toward the spinal cord.
"The surgery isn't a cure," Kara said. "That surgery felt like a lifetime because we just sat in a waiting room. It was the hardest thing I had to do because I got to walk him down the hallway just before they put him under anesthetic."
The family received constant updates from the operating room.
"The nurse called us all the time and the neurosurgeon said, 'Mom, it's okay to be nervous,'" Kara said. "It was a critical surgery and one little slip up could have been it."
Kaden returns to Columbus every three to six months depending upon the results of the MRI, which lasts upward of an hour. Kaden's next appointment is scheduled for the middle of October.
"We see a wonderful neurosurgeon (in Columbus) named Dr. (Edward) Kosnik," Kara said. "If the doctors see something they don't like on the MRI, we've got to go a little more often."
According to Kara, additional surgeries are still a possibility as he continues to grow older.
"We pray that he doesn't, but it's a little nerve-wracking because you never know what the MRI is going to say," Kara said. "Everytime he gets a headache I panic probably more than the normal parent would. An alarm goes off for me."
Kaden's parents haven't hidden anything about his disorder from him.
"He understands and he does wonderful with it," Kara said. "He used to have to be put to sleep for the MRIs, but he's gotten to be such a pro at it he gets to watch a movie while he undergoes it. He's a brave boy."
As he gets older, the check-ups will continue, but they will be spaced out further than every three months.
"We're hoping that if we have a good check-up this year, Kaden's check-ups could actually go to every six months or a year," Kara said.
Kaden was actually back in the hospital in February due to extreme back pain.
"The doctors thought it was caused by the spine starting to heal," Kara said. "He can feel his spine healing, which is what the pain is from, so he was in the hospital for a few days for that, but everything's been fine since."
Other than the routine check-ups, doctors have cleared Kaden to do basically everything other kids can do.
"The doctors have told us to let him be a kid," Kara said. "If I could put him in a bubble, I would, but we're letting him be a kid. I admit that's hard for me at times, but we've learned what to look for."
Part of being a kid is playing baseball and Kaden is the catcher for the Union Local Pinto All-Star Team, which is coached by his dad, Andrew.
"I want to shed a tear each time he takes the field because I never thought I'd be able to see the day when he got to do something like this," Kara said.
Kaden actually approached his dad about coaching his team this year after watching him coach his older brother Austin's team for several years.
"I really had no intentions of coaching, but when he asked we got some of his buddies and put together an all-star team," Andrew said. "Kaden's starting to learn (about baseball) more and he's a hustler. He's getting a lot better."
Kara and Andrew have become advocates of raising awareness and funds for research for Chiari 1 Malformation.
The couple is currently planning to host its second annual walk at Barkcamp State Park on Sept. 18, which is part of The Conquer Chiari Walk Across America, which is based in Wexford, Pa. The entire event raised $250,000 a year ago.
Registration for the walk is at 11 a.m. with the walk beginning at noon.
"Our goal for our walk this year has been set at $10,000," Kara said. "We got involved last year and got improved as a site and organizer. I'm excited to say with the funds they've raised the last two years, 90 percent of it has gone for research."
As word of the walk has spread, the Koscoe's have encountered others in the immediate area who've been touched by Chiari Malformation.
To begin raising funds, they decided to sponsor an all-star baseball tournament and fittingly named it "The Kaden Classic." The tournament wraps up today at Schuler Park in Flushing.
"I told my husband what a better way to raise money for the walk than do something he loves," Kara said. "So, we came up with this idea and we're so happy how many other teams got involved."
All told, 11 squads entered the tournament, which began Thursday evening.
"I am excited that so many people have come and helped with something that's helped me," Kaden said. "I like baseball because of hitting and catching the ball. I want to try some other positions like shortstop or second. I really like baseball."
"From the time I heard the news and thinking the worst to then hearing a doctor clear him to play sports and be a normal kid is just wonderful," Andrew said. "I think it's good for our self-esteem and his and puts us at ease a little bit. It's great we've been able to have the entire county and Ohio Valley come together for this tournament with some great sponsors. We're planning on making The Kaden Classic an annual event."
Kaden - who is a Pirates and Indians fan, but says Albert Pujols is his favorite player - has received occupational and physical therapy through Union Local, but has since been cleared.
"He's always been in a regular classroom, but he's received some therapy for the fine motor skills," Kara said. "He's been cleared to be perfectly normal."
If you'd like to participate or sponsor the walk, please contact Kara Koscoe at 740-310-7915 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org