A little more than a decade ago, a then three and half year old Tyler Bloom was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor.
Surgery was needed and performed, but as a result, Bloom was left with paralyzation to his left side.
“He was diagnosed at three and a half and when he came out of surgery he was paralyzed on the left side of his body,” Chanda Bloom, Tyler’s mother said. “So, Tyler was born completely normally developing...He came out of surgery basically like a stroke paralyze.”
In a short time, though, Tyler was walking. “So, he was at Kennedy Krieger inpatient and he walked out of inpatient three months later,” Chanda said.
Since then, Tyler, now 14, has progressed in nearly miraculous ways, with much thanks to the Adaptive Sports Program at Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Bennett Sports Program that offers wheelchair and ambulatory sports. Tyler participates in the ambulatory sports.
“He started with the motor development and some of the ambulatory activities, probably as young as four and then he’s just kind of grown into that program,” Chanda said. “Only has one hand that has full function. His left hand, he cannot wiggle his fingers.”
“We have a program called ambulatory sports, so in the fall it’s soccer, in the winter it’s basketball and in the spring it’s baseball,” Gerry Herman, Director of the Adaptive Sports Program, said. “We might throw some other things in there like tennis or paddle ball or other things on a short-term basis. Basically, it’s a place kids can go as early as age two and start to get exposed to the sports world.”
Herman added, “We provide a parallel program to what’s happening in the community. We provide seasonal opportunities, fall, winter and spring and then in the summer, for example this summer, we have the National Basketball Championships and National Track Championships, etc.”
Tyler, who has been part of the program for 10 years, seemingly plays it all, but baseball is king.
“Right now we’re doing tennis and baseball. I did soccer, swimming, basketball and that’s it,” Tyler said. “My favorite sport is baseball. Mostly it’s a sport you can play with a lot of people, a lot of friends,” Tyler said. “I’m really good at baseball.”
When asked what might be his favorite position, Tyler said, “In this sports league we play all kinds of different positions. I like hitting the best.”
Tyler says he likes playing baseball for fun, basically and he does that primarily on weekends at Kennedy Krieger as a Bennett Blazers team member.
“He’s been real active in soccer and basketball. In the last year, he’s really made big strides. He’s gotten a lot bigger physically (5-6, 181 pounds) which makes a big difference, but he’s made a lot more strides in his physical performance,” Herman said about Tyler. “He’s also become more confident, used to be kind of self-deprecating, I can’t do this, but now has a confidence. For example, we just did a golf unit and he did great in that. So if that’s something that hopefully he wants to pursue, he has the knowledge and it’s a fun game.”
“Never had any inclination or interest in doing music or arts, but he’s always enjoyed sports,” Chanda said. “Sports has always been his favorite thing and Bennett was phenomenal because it exposed him to so many different sports.”
Away from the sports and programs, Tyler is a seventh grade student at the Arrow Center for Education in Riverside. “I’m an excellent student,” Tyler said. His favorite subject is Math.
“He loves school, he loves school tremendously and he does really, really well in school. He just enjoys the learning process,” Chanda said. “He received a scholarship through school for summer recreation programs. He’s going to use it for a personal training program that he’s using for weightlifting right now.”
At 14, Tyler is moving toward the end of his time in the Adaptive Sports Programs. “Moving into weight training away from the program. He’s starting to age out, bigger than other kids,” Chanda said. “Transitioning to lifelong skills. How to use the gym equipment and other ways to getting exercise.”
What might the future hold for Tyler?
“We talk about that a lot. He just interviewed because they do transitional programs at his school and he says that he wants to work in an ice cream shop,” Chanda said. “Eventually, he wants to own a frozen yogurt shop.”
Chanda couldn’t be more pleased and thankful for the programs at Kennedy Krieger.
“It really helped him develop functional motor skills and his mobility, his strength so it did a lot of things physically to support his development, but I also think probably even more significant is what it’s done for him emotionally,” Chanda said. “Being a part of a team is a very important thing for him. That he had that ability to be part of a team, even though they were all kids of different abilities, he’s worn that for nine years with so much pride.”