Henrico man spreads awareness for godson’s rare brain disorder

Posted at 9:26 AM, Sep 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-20 09:26:21-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va., — Family and friends will walk to raise awareness for a 12-year-old boy’s rare brain disorder on Saturday. Branden Witt was diagnosed with Chiari malformation at four years old. The rare condition causes brain tissue to extend into the spinal canal.

For some people, it can cause a range of symptoms like neck pain, issues with balance and fine motor skills, and dizziness, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Treatment includes regular monitoring of symptoms along with medications and sometimes surgery.

Witt underwent neurological surgery as a young boy.

His godfather, Rick Gibbs, was then tasked with raising awareness and organizing a walk for Witt and Chiari malformation.

Saturday will mark the event’s 8th year and Gibbs has received feedback on the importance of his annual event.

“There was a really nice lady from Williamsburg that came here and said, ‘This day is better than Christmas for me,’” Gibbs recalled.

Patients are often misdiagnosed since Chiari is such a rare disorder, the woman told Gibbs.

“When the patients go into the emergency room or the doctor's office, they don't have to spell that for somebody else. It's nice to have somebody that tries to educate people, advocate for people and raise money for the cure,” Gibbs said.

The “Conquer Chiari Walk Across America” is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Westchester Commons Shopping Center in Midlothian. The community is encouraged to attend and support Witt’s continued recovery. Money raised will go to research and finding a cure for this life-changing diagnosis.

There will be food, music, face painting, and an appearance by the Chick-fil-A cow and the Flying Squirrels mascots Nutzy and Nutasha.

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