Local boy raising money for H.O.P.E. Park

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Hayden LaDuke of Stockbridge wants to do something special for his 10th birthday.

Rather than reveling in reaching double digits, though, he wants to help other kids with special needs.

Hayden’s birthday party will be on July 15 at 5 p.m., at H.O.P.E. Park- Big Spring, 64 Veterans Drive in McDonough. In lieu of gifts, Hayden wants guests to make donations to Our World at H.O.P.E. Park, a facility serving special-needs kids and adults, said Executive Director Lori Harris.

Hayden, Harris explained, suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was three weeks old and was given little chance of survival.

“This was a boy who wasn’t supposed to live, and he turned 10 on July 6,” said Harris. “No one thought he would live. Even if he did, the doctors gave him no hope to ever be able to walk, talk, see or hear. They expected him to have a trach to be able to breathe his whole life. But Hayden had different plans.”

Harris said Hayden was later adopted by Laura and Scott LaDuke. Since that time, the child has made great strides in exceeding doctors’ expectations.

“He sees. He hears. He talks,” said Harris. “And after some time on braces, he walks. For many parents, these milestones are taken for granted. For Laura and Scott LaDuke, each milestone for Hayden is a gift from God.”

Hayden’s dream, said Harris, is for people to line up at the party to make donations to H.O.P.E. Park as they wish him a happy birthday.

“It was his idea, he wanted to do it,” said Harris. “He wanted people to give money to H.O.P.E. Park so that other people could go.”

Harris said donations will be used to create a scholarship in Hayden’s name. She is proud of the generous spirit in exhibited by the child.

“I’d just love for people come and stand in that long line with him because it’s something that means a lot to him,” she said. “How often do you meet a 10-year-old who’s willing to give up his birthday to help other special needs kids?”

To donate online, visit https://form.jotform.us/OurWorldatHopePark/happy-10th-birth day-hayden.