HANOVER — When 3-year-old Finn Webster was announced as this year’s CHaD Kid Hero, he was given a pizza party and presented with a cape and a magic wand.
“He never put the wand down. He was really into it,” said Luke Webster, Finn’s dad.
Finn and his parents, Luke and Maeghan Webster, have been coming to Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock since before he was born. It started with genetic testing in 2015 that revealed Down syndrome in their unborn baby. At that point, they didn’t know the baby’s sex, a surprise they kept until he was born.
“We knew that Finn would have Down syndrome,” Maeghan Webster said. “That’s all we knew.”
Luke Webster said the family already had a good relationship with the hospital staff after their daughter, Frankie, was born.
“There were some surprises along the way, but we were in good hands,” he said.
Because of the high occurrence of congenital heart problems in people born with Down syndrome, the Websters made sure to get a fetal echocardiogram. That test didn’t show anything to worry about. Then, about a week before he was due, another test showed there was a problem with Finn’s heart.
“There were three holes in Finn’s heart,” Maeghan Webster said.
Initially, she said, it looked like his heart would have to be repaired before he was 6 months old. That would mean open-heart surgery.
“That was scary,” she said.
There was also the concern that his heart could fail before he had a chance at the surgery, Maeghan Webster said. The pediatricians the Websters were seeing at CHaD were able to put off the surgery with drugs to treat the heart, and one of the holes soon closed on its own.
“He’s our little miracle boy,” she said.
The one hole repairing itself meant the surgery could wait until Finn turns 4. He is now scheduled to get the operation in June. Luke Webster said it will take months for Finn to recover from the heart repairs.
“It’s a significant recovery,” he said.
The pediatric cardiologists at CHaD have a strong working relationship with the pediatric cardiology team at Boston Children’s Hospital, where Finn is going to have his surgery. Both medical teams have provided huge support for the family, Luke Webster said.
Both parents say the heart condition hasn’t held Finn back in anything, and that he’s a delightful boy who loves the world. Luke said that Finn will likely high-five everyone he meets at the CHaD Hero day scheduled for Oct. 20 on the Dartmouth College common, where Finn is going to be the special Kid Hero for the day. Maeghan Webster thinks Finn will have a blast.
“He really enjoys the parties that we have,” she said.
The event is considered the premier athletic fundraiser for CHaD, featuring a variety of family-friendly races and activities that support kids and programs. CHaD is New Hampshire’s only children’s hospital.
The event started in 2006 as a half-marathon run, and it has grown to include a competitive 5K run and walk, 1-mile family fun run, 25- or 50-mile bike ride, and a 5-mile hike. Children can participate in Cam’s Course, a 1-mile circuit promoting fitness and philanthropy to help kids. Participants are encouraged to dress as superheroes for the events.
While the heroes are on the course, friends, family and spectators can take in the festival on the green. The festival includes local food vendors, a KidZone with mechanical animal rides, face painting and more. There will also be live entertainment and plenty of opportunities to cheer on the participants.
More information about the event can be found at www.chadhero.org.