One thing that all of the best superheroes have going for them is the element of surprise. Ava’s parents wanted a baby very much but weren’t expecting her when she sprang into the world three months prematurely. Because she was so premature, Ava spent almost four months in the NICU, growing stronger every day. Soon she came home healthy and happy, but eventually her mom noticed something was different about Ava. She wasn’t rolling over, sitting or crawling as one would expect, and her mother realized that, yet again, Ava was setting her own rules.

Ava was thirteen months old when she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and having this diagnosis meant that she was ready for The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs. Think of The Bell Center as an intensive training camp for little heroes, serving infants and toddlers at risk of developmental delay. Programs at The Bell Center are designed to promote growth in gross and fine motor skills, as well as language, cognition, self-help and social skills. Each child is evaluated annually, and goals are tailored specifically to the child’s needs.

Not long after, things started to change. Ava only needed to find her own League of Superheroes and suddenly she was happier and more exuberant. Now two years old, Ava is thriving. She is a fashionista and can’t shop without everyone commenting on her glasses. What’s her superpower, you ask? Ava’s smile is all consuming, and while she is still learning to talk, she can brighten the darkest day with her grin.

Ava will walk, talk and even fly in her own time. Superheroes set their own pace, after all. During the Mercedes-Benz Marathon Weekend thousands of heroes took to the streets of downtown Birmingham, Alabama in support of Ava and The Bell Center. A few participants flew the entire course. Others started strong and hobbled to the end while some kept slow and steady from start to finish.

You never have to run or even fly to become a superhero, though. Many heroes simply click or to discover their own powers. The Bell Center is deeply grateful for all of the support we receive during Mercedes-Benz Marathon season and year-round. We are constantly reminded that superheroes come in all shapes and sizes by our students and by you!

(Special thanks to Bell Eddins and Noah Galloway)

Blog written by TBC friend Alicia Roden