In many ways, Zach Harding is a typical high school student. He enjoys computer classes at school, is a champion on the Wii, loves but fights with his younger sister Holly, and enjoys music (especially Kenny Chesney and Garth Brooks), hunting, basketball, and hockey. The only difference between Zach and his classmates is that he does everything in a wheelchair. Being paralyzed from the waist down due to spina bifida hasn’t slowed him down one bit. His passion is playing sled hockey, which he began playing 11 years ago.
Since its inception in 1999, Teammates For Kids has provided aid to children across North America and in 60 countries around the world. We've done this by making donations to existing children's charities, and by building and supporting Child Life Zones. We've gotten to know the children on this page either as patients of the Zones or as recipients of services provided by other kids' charities we've supported financially.
Vincent Peterson of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, lights up the room with his megawatt smile. Diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at a young age, the 7th grader now wields his wheelchair with the deftness of a true athlete. His favorite sport is wheelchair soccer, and one of his proudest achievements is a 1st place wheelchair finish in a 5K race to support spinal muscular atrophy research. He also enjoyed the thrill of riding the Otter Tail River in a canoe.
Laudy Matos of the Dominican Republic was born with a genetic form of dwarfism. We met Laudy through a grant from Teammates to Cure International, an organization that provides medical care and spiritual healing to children and families with curable physical disabilities. Through a series of surgeries and other treatments, Cure International restored Laudy’s health, and he was our guest at the 2008 Teammates Appreciation Party, which is when he caught a piggyback ride from Garth.
Jessie Overstreet, age 9, is a 4th grader from Atlanta who enjoys tumbling and gymnastics, running, dancing, and playing the Wii. She also craves the limelight and wants to be in a commercial or music video one day. Her favorite TV shows are "American Idol," "America’s Got Talent," "American Ninja Warrior," and Disney shows including "Jessie." She loves the music of Scotty McCreery and Garth Brooks.
Born with Treacher-Collins Syndrome, Nathaniel Newman has faced countless challenges and more than 20 surgeries in his short eight years, in order to correct the severe cranio-facial problems that are a part of his condition. While receiving treatment at the Institute for Reconstructive Plastic Surgery (IRPS) at NYU Medical Center, Nathaniel has been the epitome of hope, courage, and strength. We met Nathaniel through the National Foundation for Facial Reconstruction (NFFR), yet another organization that received a donation from Teammates.
Savannah Miller of Franklin, Tennessee, is a teen with a passion for life and a heart for others. Born with spina bifida, a cleft palate, and deafness in one ear, Savannah has hurdled obstacles that many thought would be insurmountable. Her passions are A.B.L.E. Youth, playing T-ball, swimming, skiing, and performing sign language to music. In 2008 she was named Little Miss Wheelchair Tennessee. We met Savannah through a grant from Teammates to A.B.L.E. (Adapt, Believe, Love, Enjoy) Youth, an organization that introduces children in wheelchairs to competitive wheelchair sports.
Thirteen-year-old Pearl Beck of Las Vegas is a Challenger Little League veteran. Although she was born with cystic fibrosis, there’s no holding her back as she plays first base and takes her turn at bat. The Challenger Division of Little League was established in 1989 to enable boys and girls with physical and mental challenges to play America’s favorite pastime. At Teammates for Kids, we’re delighted to donate $75,000 each year to Challenger Little League, and that’s how we met Pearl.
At the Teammates Appreciation Part in Las Vegas in 2005, one of our special guests was Sam Berns, who was an infant when he was diagnosed with progeria, a disease of accelerated aging. We met Sam through a donation from Teammates to the Progeria Research Foundation and learned that he was a huge Red Sox fan. Unbeknownst to Sam, we made arrangements for World-Series Champion and proud Teammate Curt Schilling to make a surprise appearance at the party.