National News

Children with serious illnesses enjoy day at the Cincinnati Zoo thanks to 'A Kid Again'

Posted August 3

— When a child has a life-threatening illness, hospital visits become the focus instead of school and homework, and surgeries make for very adult worries.

That's where "A Kid Again" comes in.

You might take light moments - like getting an Icee - for granted, but the Heinrich family doesn't.

That's because 8-year-old Brody has already had 10 surgeries, leaving paths of scars across his head.

Brody has craniosynostosis. "As his brain expands and grows, his skull can't," said Brody's mom, Tawnya Heinrich.

That has meant headaches and seizures and lengthy hospital stays. But during his last one, Brody had something to look forward to - a day at the Cincinnati Zoo thanks to A Kid Again.

The Ohio-born organization serves more than 1,000 families in the Tri-State and Dayton.

"It's a day to forget about hospitals, forget about doctors and illnesses, and gather together with other families who share the same experience," said Liz Koszuta, executive director of A Kid Again - Southwest Ohio Chapter.

Koszuta said families told them the almost monthly outings help them cope with illness and find hope and happiness.

There's joy, said Brody's mom.

"You get to see your kid happy," said Tawnya Heinrich.

And peace, said Brody's dad.

"We get a break," said Nicholas Heinrich. "We don't have to worry, 'Do we have an appointment today? What's gonna happen?' This and that.

"This is the first time we've gone to Cincy and have not had to go to Children's Hospital, so this is a big day."

And, best of all, happiness for the child.

"It makes me feel really good," said Brody. "Often I don't get that because I'm in and out of hospitals a lot, so this I love."

A Kid Again says it couldn't offer families the experiences it does without good partners like the zoo.

A Kid Again is working to expand its reach. The three-year goal is to double the number of kids served.

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