Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

Four 'preemies' winning race of life

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From left are Ali Hoffman, Brycen White, Makayla and MacKenzie Lankford. Submitted

Once a fighter, always a fighter

I just wanted to share this photo and stories about these four miracle babies! Besides all going to Tuckers Crossroads Elementary and being awesome kids by all accounts, four members of the TXR Cross Country team started out as fighters.

Each of them were born premature.

Ali Hoffman was born on June 30, 2003, weighing 1 pound and 14 ounces and 14 weeks early. She had very under developed lungs, brain bleeds and many other illnesses and complications that required a few surgeries. According to the doctors, she probably would never go home from the hospital. It took 117 days, and she's hasn't slowed down since.

Makayla and MacKenzie Lankford (identical twins) were born 13 weeks early on Aug, 21, 2003, weighing 1 pound 8 ounces and 2 pounds 5 ounces. Their mom spent one month on bed rest - which is even harder because she had a five year old at home - before having an emergency C-section. They were born with a rare form of meningitis and were only the 11th and 12th cases on record.

They, too, had lots of severe illnesses, a surgery and set backs but wanted to be home in time to trick-or-treat. So 69 days after they arrived at Vandy, they went home, just in time for Halloween.

Brycen White was born on Sept. 22, 2005, at 32 weeks weighing in at a whopping 5 pounds 13 ounces - almost more than all three of the girls combined.

His mom had major complications during her pregnancy and, luckily, the doctors had stopped her labor twice. After the third time, Brycen was ready to make his presence known. He was born a healthy baby that was alert and had a fighting spirit according to his parents.

After 72 hours he was able to go home. He had no major health issues and is still just as healthy and happy.

Not only did these four have a tougher beginning in life, but they faced major obstacles being born so early. I have to tell you that, besides being a bit smaller than their peers, these guys make up for it with kindness, dedication and those smiles!

They work so hard everyday and each play a big role in helping their cross country team reach goals every single week. Their coach, Amanda Owen, said, "Despite their size, these four are some of most determined kids on our team. It's not that they feel like they have something to prove. They are naturally fighters. You watch them race against kids four times their size and you are amazed, humbled and excited all at the same time."

Now it's time to cheer on Ali, MacKenzie, and four other Tuckers Crossroads cross country team members because they are heading to Knoxville on Oct. 24 to the Middle School State Championship.

Jennie Walpole is the mother of Ali Hoffman and the owner and master stylist at Asante Masters Salon at The Mill.

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