When Garrett Adams hurled a perfect first pitch over the plate at an Indianapolis Indians game last summer on a Riley fundraising night, it seemed a fitting symbol of his success in the face of adversity. Garrett has become a driven ambassador for Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.
Garrett was 11 when he was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis and shortly after, Crohn’s disease. The conditions packed a punch on his growing body.
“He’d wake up and his knee was as big as a cantaloupe,” said his mother Esteina. He spent much of last summer in a wheelchair. His stomach began to hurt all the time and he was throwing up after nearly every meal.
“It’s difficult to think about diagnosing a child with a lifelong disease, but this is precisely what happens when we diagnose a child with Crohn’s,” says Garrett’s physician, Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health Pediatric Gastroenterologist Steven Steiner, M.D.
That’s a lot for a kid to handle; but, Garrett not only handles it well, he saw a way to help kids in a similar situation. During his transfusions (delivery of medicine intravenously to treat his Crohn’s disease) he was bored. It got him thinking that other kids must be bored too. He raised money to equip four beds in the Gastroenterology Unit in Riley Hospital at IU North with an Xbox video game system. “At first I just asked people for money,” says Garrett, matter-of-factly. “Then I sold ballpoint pens to people I raced with.”
The “people he races with” are the go-karting community which he was pre-ordained to be a part of. Garrett’s grandfather Mark Dismore, a former driver in the Indy Racing League including eight appearances in The Indianapolis 500, owns New Castle Motor Sports Park. The park hosts John Andretti’s annual Kroger Race for Riley Presented by Cheerios go-kart race, part of a week-long series of fundraising events that began in 1996.
Garrett also organized a bowling fundraiser and reached his goal of raising enough money to allow Riley to add Child Life services for gastroenterology patients at Riley at IU Health North. His organizational skills and ability to pool resources have impressed his friends, family and Riley caregivers.
“I am always amazed at the resilience and positive attitude that so many of our pediatric Crohn’s patients display, and Garrett is a shining example,” says Dr. Steiner. “I couldn’t be prouder of Garrett. I’m confident that no matter where he ends up, he will be a positive influence on all those who come in contact with him.”