Holton's Heroes: Philadelphia walk raises awareness for traumatic brain injuries

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "I think when you're put in this corner, and your child's life is on the line, and you have no choice but to move forward so that your family can survive, you do it," said Eric Weingrad.

Weingrad is originally from Bensalem, Pennsylvania. He has since moved to Los Angeles, California, and started a family with his wife, Angela. Everything seemed perfect until 11 weeks following the birth of their second child, Holton.

"I wasn't involved in helping out families with pediatric brain injuries until my son got affected by one himself," said Weingrad.

It was an injury he sustained while under the supervision of the family's nanny. Holton suffered from seizures and a cracked skull, ultimately classified as a traumatic and anoxic brain injury.

"He can't talk, he eats through a G-Tube, he can't walk, he can't hug me," said Weingrad. "But he's happy and he spreads love and joy. And when people see him, they light up and he lights up the world around them."

It's a light that the boy has emitted for seven years following his injury and the subsequent creation of Holton's Heroes, a non-profit dedicated to connecting other affected families with the resources they need.

"Since we started our foundation, we've directly helped over 80 families with expensive durable medical equipment around the country," said Weingrad. "We just did an event in Los Angeles last Sunday, we have this event here, and collectively, we raised well over $75,000 in these two events, so it's amazing."

More than one hundred supporters came to The Mann Center in West Fairmount Park this morning to walk for the cause. Among them was Marissa Witman from Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.

"This Halloween, it'll be 17 years," said Witman. "I was walking across the street and I got hit by a car, and so, I'm a traumatic brain injury survivor."

Witman fought for her life, overcame a harsh recovery period, and is now back on her feet and engaged to be married this December. She is a volunteer with Camp Cranium and works to raise awareness for safe driving, especially while kids are trick-or-treating.

"I'm so blessed with all the support I had at Children's Hospital, and I'm just trying to help and give back, too," she said.

Also in attendance to support the cause were Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders and BYC Spirit, an inclusive squad for individuals with disabilities.

To learn more about Holton's Heroes, visit their website.

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