When Matthias Vescelus crossed the finish line of the Reebok Spartan Race in Indiana, there weren’t many dry eyes in the house. Young Matthias, just four years old, had completed a difficult course with the challenge Spartan set forth, but for the child who had survived cancer, a cancer that took his eyes and his sight, it was just another example of how he overcomes all his personal obstacles. The ambassador for St. Baldricks’s took on the race after he heard his father and older brother did the Spartan Race the year before. Not quite old enough at the time, he and his family spent the year getting prepared for his chance to take on the Spartan Kid’s Race.
Matthias Vescelus is one of five 2013 St. Baldrick’s Foundation Ambassadors. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money to fund the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives.
The five Ambassadors are a reminder that cancer affects more than 175,000 children worldwide each year – worldwide, every three minutes a child is diagnosed, and in the U.S. one in five kids diagnosed will not survive.
At three months old, Matthias was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare cancerous tumor in his eyes. He spent the majority of his first year fighting for his life and endured six months of chemotherapy. Near the end of treatment, his main tumors started growing again and despite his doctor’s best efforts, Matthias’ eyes were both removed before his first birthday.
Matthias is now cancer free and hasn’t let blindness hold him back. He attends preschool with sighted peers and enjoys playing with his older brother and neighborhood friends, swimming, climbing, riding his tricycle and learning to play the piano. He will be under the care of an oncologist for the rest of his life due to a genetic mutation that makes him predisposed to developing other cancers.
Matthias’ mom, Katie, shaved for the second time this year to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Matthias’ dad, Craig, and brother, Magnus, became Spartans last year after finishing the Founders’ Race in Indiana. This year Matthias and his mom, Katie, will participate in the race with the team Odin’s Raiders (a nod to Craig’s Viking heritage and Matthias, whose middle name is Odin).
This year Matthias is planning to participate in the kids’ Spartan Race, the race is another way for him to inspire others to not let cancer define them. Matthias’ excitement to compete in the Race blind is another way he is enjoying his role as a St. Baldrick’s Ambassador, to be a face, voice and name for kids with cancer, and by doing so, encourage other survivors to dream big and reach their goals!
It’s not too late to sign up and join Matthias in Indiana. Click HERE to sign up!