Teen takes inspiring trot in Home Run for Life at Fifth Third Field

The Dayton Dragons and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield hosted 15-year-old Alex Hilgeford as their special guest Wednesday at the Anthem Home Run for Life Program. 

Alex Hilgeford, 14, was the guest at the program watching as the Dragons took on the South Bend Cubs at Fifth Third Field. 

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Hilgeford, an eighth-grader at St. Helen's Catholic School, likes to camp, fish, hunt and play wheelchair basketball with his friends. He suffers from a very rare condition, Popliteal Pterygium syndrome, a condition that affects the development of the skin and face. 

In January 2002, Alex was born with unusual physical features. He had webbing behind both knees, a club foot, a cleft palate and his tongue was attached to the roof of his mouth. 

He has experienced more than a dozen surgeries, the first of which occurred when he was 3 days old. 

Even after all the surgeries, Alex still had issues using his right leg. Doctors recommended amputation and fitting him with a prosthetic to increase his mobility. At 7 years of age, Alex underwent the amputation. 

It turned out that the decision was the right one, according to Alex, who hopes to make the 2024 Paralympics for wheelchair basketball. 

For the past three years, he has joined the Amputee Coalition at Camp Joy, a camp that helps children with limb loss and limb indifference enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle. He said he’s looking forward to the day when he can give back to the camp by volunteering as a camp counselor. 

"I want kids to understand that whatever your situation, it's not going to last forever," Alex said. "You will come out okay on the other side. This isn't the end of the road…It's just a bump along the way." 

The Anthem Home Run for Life program provides children in the Dayton region who are battling serious medical conditions with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Each honoree gets to take a lap around the bases at Fifth Third Field. Alex was able to complete that feat Wednesday night. 

"I was a little nervous, but once I started running, I felt free,” Alex said. “It was so fun."

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