About Reed Kotalik
By his parents, Dawn and John Kotalik
No matter whether Reed is running on an oval, trail, or road, with each step we never take for granted what he has overcome these past eight years. It is nothing short of a miracle that Reed can take part in the sport that he loves. Reed was born with laryngomalacia. He labored to breath as a baby. After extensive testing, doctors determined that he had no cartilage in his throat. Initially, medical professionals suggested that he would “outgrow” the condition, but that wasn’t the case. With any little sickness, the “floppy” throat tissue would swell and inhibit his breathing. After a lengthy hospitalization following his first birthday, surgeons intervened and repaired his throat. Feeding and other therapy followed. Once he got past those hurdles, neurological and muscular deficiencies became more noticeable as he was learning to walk. Reed would wake multiple times through the night and cry out, but not recognize us when we rushed to aid him. Doctors suspected the episodes were seizures and more studies followed as we searched for answers. Near Thanksgiving of 2014, the neurologist diagnosed Reed with Cerebral Palsy. Surgery was suggested along with seizure medication. Instead of rushing into this new path for our little boy with the biggest blue eyes and the sweetest smile, we decided to wait until after the holidays to proceed with the treatment plan.
During those weeks, we spent time exploring other treatment possibilities and Reed shared his thoughts. For Reed, the diagnosis was life changing but not in the way that most would expect. From that point, we followed his lead and remain in awe as to where it has taken us. His path was one that required a lot of persistence and significant rehabilitation to strengthen and condition muscles. There have been challenges, including cardiac episodes and weakness after illness, but he never veers from his path. Since the start of 2015, Reed has stepped up to 30 national podiums across the country. He has won 7 national championships in running and field events. In the Spring of 2016, he partnered with CHI St. Luke’s Health and rabbit. Since then, Reed’s running has taken on added meaning- to bring awareness to Cerebral Palsy, CASA for foster kids, Batten Disease, Head for the Cure, and Juvenile Diabetes. Reed was named as the national ambassador for the Make Lemon Aide for Cerebral Palsy Foundation. In February of 2017, AAU Track and Field named Reed as its’ national spotlight athlete. In August 2017, he challenged friends to join him to do 21 Random Acts of Kindness in one day to honor friend, Grant Milton. Reed makes public appearances to benefit literacy causes, has hosted drives to gather books for hospitalized children, and provided school supplies and toys for those in foster care. When he isn’t running, Reed loves fishing, exploring the American backcountry by train, painting, and his favorite superhero is Flash. Thanks for sharing in the journey with us and for being part of TEAM REED!