Brandon and Carrington’s Weekend Adventure



Brandon and Carrington, two children from St. Mary’s Home, joined Team Hoyt VB for a trip this past weekend to Holland, Mass., where father-and-son athlete team Dick and Rick Hoyt live. 

The group of 96 athletes, participants, family and friends traveled from Hampton Roads by plane, car and RV and enjoyed a cookout on Saturday at the Hoyts’ home – complete with rides for everyone who wanted to go on Dick Hoyt’s boat for a spin around the lake. They also ran the Holland Elementary School 5K on Sunday morning and celebrated afterward at Team Hoyt’s Finish Line restaurant. 



Team Hoyt VB is a local offshoot of Team Hoyt, which strives to help people with physical disabilities become active members of the community. Dick Hoyt and his son compete together in marathons and triathlons nationwide. Members of Team Hoyt VB have pushed children and young adults in St. Mary’s annual 5K, among other races. 

Check out St. Mary’s Facebook page for more photos from the weekend trip. 



Children from St. Mary’s, and Other Kids, Have Fun at Homearama

Carrington, who lives at St. Mary’s Home, works on a craft project with help from Angelica Yankauskas, a member of St. Mary’s recreational therapy staff, during Kids-a-Rama at Homearama on Sunday. (photo by Nicole Hoskins Jones)

There’s something for everyone at Homearama, even the kids.

On Sunday, staff from St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children held the first of two Kids-a-Ramas – with games, arts and crafts, book readings and more – during the Tidewater Builders Association’s Fall 2010 Homearama in Norfolk’s East Beach community.

They also will hold a fall-themed Kids-a-Rama on Sunday, Oct. 31, from 1-4 p.m. St. Mary’s is the recipient of proceeds from the sale of the Charity House at the Homearama showcase of homes.

About 70 children, including five from St. Mary’s Home, participated in the first Kids-a-Rama. They transformed coffee filters into flowers and butterflies, turned tissue paper into stained “glass,” decorated mermaid coloring-book pages, built houses out of craft sticks, created bookmarks, plucked toy ducks out of a pool to win prizes and played ring toss and cornhole.

Ron Herrick, manager of St. Mary’s environmental services department, and his wife, Melanie, stopped by Kids-a-Rama to work on some arts and crafts. (photo by Nicole Hoskins Jones)
Broderick, who lives at St. Mary’s Home, tries to fish a toy duck out of the pool, with assistance from Stephanie Bailey,  a recreational therapy assistant at St. Mary’s (in yellow), and Target team member Betty Hollowell (in red). (photo by Nicole Hoskins Jones)

“The children who live at St. Mary’s do many of these same activities, with some modifications to make them therapy-based,” said Nicole Hoskins Jones, St. Mary’s director of recreational therapy services, who organized Kids-a-Rama.

Target team members are helping with Kids-a-Rama. (photo by Nicole Hoskins Jones)

Local Target stores donated supplies for Kids-a-Rama and Target team members are volunteering to help with the programs.

Also among those helping with the effort is Jenna Crumley, the 9-year-old daughter of the Charity House builder, Scott Crumley. Jenna and her friends have started a “Kid2Kid” program to reach out to children of St. Mary’s Home. They have donated party materials to the children, and sold lemonade to raise funds for the children.

The first Kids-a-Rama also included story time, with local author Lisa Suhay reading her children’s book, “There Goes a Mermaid! A NorFolktale.” To celebrate St. Mary’s 65th anniversary, the Home sponsored the publication of a special updated edition of the book, which was inspired by the statues around Norfolk that are shaped like the city’s mermaid symbol.

Photos from White House Easter Egg Roll

Carrington’s grandfather has shared photos he took when he, Carrington and her mother went to the Easter Egg Roll at the White House on Monday:

“It was just amazing to see all the kids there,” said the proud grandfather, Harold Brown Jr. His favorite part of the experience? “Just seeing her smile.”

To read more about Carrington’s Easter trip, see today’s Daily Press. The story is online here.

UPDATE: WTKR-TV Channel 3 also had a story, on its 11 p.m. newscast. You can watch it online here



Grandpa’s Love is Girl’s Easter Gift

(2008 file photo of Carrington by Philip Holman for St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children)

The Daily Press of Newport News has a wonderful story on its front page today about Carrington, a 9-year-old Hampton girl who lives at St. Mary’s Home. Susan Smiglieski Acker writes about how the love of Carrington’s maternal grandfather made Easter Monday extra special for Carrington and her mother.

You can read the story online here, but if you get a chance, pick up the newspaper. We may be a bit biased, but the front page looks spectacular.

UPDATE: From St. Mary’s Home to the White House

Carrington and her mother at St. Mary’s 5K race in 2008

A grandfather’s handwritten letter to President Obama turned into a trip to the White House for a 9-year-old Hampton girl who lives at St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children in Norfolk.

Carrington, her mother and her maternal grandfather were at the White House this afternoon to take part in the 2010 Easter Egg Roll.

“It was beautiful,” said Carrington’s mother, Cecelia Walker, as the family was getting ready to head back to southeastern Virginia after a long day. “The highlight of it all: There were 1,200 volunteers.We found a volunteer who guided us through the whole thing, every single station.”

In February, Carrington’s grandfather, Harold C. Brown Jr. of San Francisco, mailed a letter to the president requesting that Carrington be invited to this year’s Easter Egg Roll. He included some photos of his granddaughter.

Last week, he received a call from the White House and an email letting him know that three tickets had been reserved for him, his granddaughter and his daughter. The proud grandpa flew from California to Virginia so the three of them could drive together to Washington, D.C., on Easter Sunday.

You can read more about Carrington’s adventure here, on the website of the Daily Press of Newport News.

For more information about the Easter Egg Roll, click here.

From St. Mary’s Home to the White House

Carrington with her mother and grandfather, at St. Mary’s Home

A 9-year-old Hampton girl who lives at St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children is going to the White House on Monday to take part in the world’s most famous Easter Egg Roll.

In February, Carrington’s grandfather mailed a handwritten letter to President Obama requesting that Carrington be invited to this year’s Easter Egg Roll, a tradition that dates back to 1878. He included some photos of his granddaughter.

A few days ago, he received a call from the White House and an email letting him know that three tickets have been reserved for him, his granddaughter and his daughter (Carrington’s mother). The proud grandpa flew from San Francisco to Virginia so the three of them could drive up to Washington, D.C., this weekend.

The Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn is the largest public event at the White House each year, with 30,000 people from across the country expected to attend. For more information about the Easter Egg Roll, click here.

Gotta Dance

Carrington doesn’t use her right hand very often. She mostly relies on her left hand to reach out or pick things up. But today was different.

She smiled, gleefully shouted “Yeah” a few times and waved her right hand in front of her as she watched the Silver Tappers twirl, kick and shuffle across St. Mary’s Atrium.

The other children, plus teachers and staff, who filled the Atrium were equally delighted.

The Silver Tappers is a nonprofit dance company made up of women age 50 and older. Directed by Rita Joyner of Virginia Beach, the women have been taking dance class together for several years.They donate their time and talent to help charitable organizations.

The group has a total of 15 members. Nine women, including Joyner, performed today at St. Mary’s. Their average age? 70.

Carrington meets Rita Joyner, director of The Silver Tappers, as Terry Lyle, principal of the school at St. Mary’s, looks on.

St. Mary’s Own Elf

(bottom photo by Weyo)

The hall outside the Occupational Therapy Support Services Department at St. Mary’s Home is decorated like Santa’s Workshop. Inside the department, technician Mamie McCloud is busy as one of Santa’s elves, especially at this time of year. She adapts toys so children with severe disabilities can use them. With an array of tools, she deftly replaces small switches with large buttons that are easier for the children to push to make toys dance or play music.

Mamie is profiled today in a nice feature in The Virginian-Pilot newspaper of Norfolk; you can read the story here.

Be sure to check out the accompanying video, which features Mamie and Suzanne Eason, who supervises OT support services, as well as Ashley and Carrington, two of the children of St. Mary’s Home: