HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The loud cheers at the end of Saturday’s Keiki Rainbow Fun Run at the University of Hawaii were for Vincent Jones-Waechter.
The 3-year-old at the center of attention crossed the finish with the aid of his walker.
"Just to hear all the surrounding support. It was overwhelming," his father Billy Waechter siad.
Boosted by the encouragement of the other kids, Vincent willed his little body to cover 1.2 miles around the UH track. It was a taxing test of his mind and body.
"He's an inspiration!" said his mother, Ann Jones.
Vincent suffers from Spinocerebellar antaxia type 29. The genetic disorder affects his coordination, muscle tone, mental development and speech.
Mom and dad found out early on that he had the condition.
“He wasn’t hitting the milestones ― one month, two months, three months. He wasn’t looking at me. His eyes were all over the place,” Jones said.
Vincent’s form of ataxia is extremely rare. His parents say he is one of only about 20 people in the entire United States with SCA 29.
The condition stems from his father's side. SCA runs in his family.
Waechter discovered that not a lot of people know about the disorder.
"More importantly not a lot of studies are out about it," he said.
Vincent is being treated by doctors at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children and Shriners Hospitals for Children.
As he grows, he’ll need help from a neurologist, a developmental pediatrician, and a physical therapist.
Jones said her son will be developmentally delayed for the rest of his life, but some aspects of his condition should improve over time.
"It'll come. It'll happen," she said. "That's why we sing, we do therapy, we talk to him, we read books. We do everything we humanly can for him."
That's where racing comes into the picture. The Rainbow run was his third race.
"We're not going to stop," Jones said.
The walker has given Vincent independence and opened up a whole new world ― one in which every step is a milestone.
“Mom was talking about putting him in the Special Olympics. I support that 100 percent!” Waechter said.