A couple seeks help for an ailing son, 4

NEIGHBORS

May 23, 2000|By Pamela Woolford | Pamela Woolford,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A 21-YEAR resident of east Columbia, Gino Hijadagrew up in Owen Brown and led not an uncommon life.

He served in the Air Force in the early 1990s. In 1993, he returned to Columbia and soon met his future wife, Lynette. They became "best friends," he said.

Four years ago, the couple had their first child, Kahlil, whose name in Arabic means "best friend."

Soon after his birth, the couple realized their son had health problems."Kahlil is a God-sent child who has been diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy," Lynette Hijada wrote in a flier seeking donations for their son's medical fund.

The Hijadas, who live in Long Reach, are raising money to support their son's medical treatments and associated travel expenses that are not covered by insurance, an estimated $24,000.

With the support of their extended family and their homeowners association in Stony Run, they are sponsoring a dinner and dance benefit from7 p.m. to midnight Saturday at Kahler Hall in Harper's Choice.

During the week, the Hijadas run an investment firm from their home, where they spend much of their time caring for their eldest son. In addition to cerebral palsy, Kahlil has epilepsy and hearing and vision impairments, and has undergone two heart operations.

Because of developmental delays, Kahlil does not focus his attention very long."My wife sang the alphabet to him a couple of weeks ago, and he sat there and watched as she sang the whole alphabet and that's a good 45 seconds, which is a big deal," said Gino, who works as a hotel concierge on weekends to bring in additional income.

When he was 3 months old, Kahlil received a routine diphtheria pertussis tetanus (DPT) immunization. The next day he had a seizure, Gino said. Gino, a former radiology assistant at Howard County General Hospital, Gino said he later read about studies that suggest DPT shots can cause epilepsy in some children.

No known factor links all of Kahlil's illnesses. "That's probably one of the frustrating things," Gino said. "The medical community has not been able to identify the problem."

Kahlil receives hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) at a medical center in Columbia, Pa. A nontraditional treatment for cerebral palsy, HBOT is used to treat stroke victims, burn patients and those suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

During therapy, Kahlil lies in a pressurized 100 percent pure oxygen chamber for an hour, twice a day Monday through Friday. His father said the treatment has shown promising results.

Before HBOT "he would smile once every two or three weeks. Now almost every day, he'll crack a smile," Gino said.

Kahlil is to begin a monthlong, intensive physical and occupational therapy program in October at the Euromed center in Poland.

In addition to the dinner-dance benefit, the Hijadas are sponsoring a charity golf tournament to help pay medical expenses. The tournament will be held July 21 at Patuxent Greens Country Club in Laurel. An Owen Brown Middle School home economics class will sell Popsicles at a school event to benefit Kahlil's medical fund.

Information: the Hijadas, 410-971-1260, or e-mail them at hope4kahlil@yahoo.com. To make a contribution, send a check to Kahlil Hijada Medical Fund, c/o Lynette Hijada, 6117 Quiet Times, Columbia 21045.

Atlanta honors Lonnie King

The Atlanta City Council proclaimed May 1, 2000, as Lonnie C. King Jr. Day in Atlanta to honor Oakland Mills resident Lonnie King. A Georgia native, King was recognized on the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Atlanta University Center student movement, in which students from Atlanta University, Clark, Morehouse, Morris Brown and Spelmancolleges and the Interdenominational Theological Center published "An Appeal for Human Rights."

From 1960 to 1963, King worked with Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a former Georgia congressman, to organize hundreds of fellow students in civil rights sit-ins in Atlanta's bus depots and cafeterias.

King - not related to Martin Luther King - was chairman of an anniversary event of workshops and tributes held in Atlanta from March 31 through April 2. President and chief executive officer of King, McCants and Associates, a business contracting with government agencies to investigate equal employment opportunity complaints, King is president of the National Alumni Association of Morehouse College.

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