Every year, St. Alexius chooses an ambassador for their kickball tournament. Here to represent the Pediatric Therapy Department as SAKT's 2015 Ambassador is five-year-old Anna Leingang. 

At first glance, you would think Anna was just like any other five-year-old. The difference? She has been battling a mystery condition since she was just a few months old.

Anna's mother, Lisa, recalls Anna frequently being sick with colds, respiratory infections, and ear infections shortly after she was born. At her four month check up, nurses noticed Anna's head measured larger than normal. A CT scan confirmed that there was swelling around Anna's brain known as external hydrocephalus. This condition usually goes away by age two.

Anna hit her 'baby milestones' throughout her first year. However, sounds and movements Anna normally made came to a stop between the age of one and two. Luckily, a friend referred the Leingang family to CHI St. Alexius Health's Pediatric Therapy Department. Jesse Wutzke, an occupational therapist, recalls Anna's journey:

When Anna started therapy she was a very shy, timid and almost nonverbal little girl who struggled with most skills she should've mastered for her age. She is now able to dress and undress herself almost independently, she can cut out simple shapes fairly well and she is able to write her name with a model given. She has opened up a bit more to movement-types of activities such as standing on a balance board that moves, going on swings, or playing on playground equipment. It has been wonderful watching this little girl blossom over the last couple years!

Anna still attends speech therapy weekly to work on motor planning for speech sounds such as tactile cuing and visual cues. According to speech therapist, Amber Fox, Anna is able to verbalize her wants and needs.

Anna is a strong and determined little girl. She is still working hard towards improving her speech, balance, and attention span. Her parents' hope is that Anna will live as close to a normal life as possible and St. Alexius Pediatric Therapy Department is helping her do so.

The St. Alexius Kickball Tournament is on September 26 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Get a team together and sign up to support the Pediatric Therapy Department and other amazing kids like Anna. Early bird registration ends August 31!

[CHI St. Alexius]