5-year-old with brain condition takes his first steps

A child taking their first steps is always a special moment to witness. 

Mandy Hanson let the world into her special moment when she tweeted footage of her son Camden Hanson’s milestone. 

“Since we all could use a little happiness in our lives these days,” Mandy tweeted. “My youngest son (age 5) has progressive cerebellar atrophy and is physically handicapped. He also has 10 therapies a week. Today, he finally took independent steps!” 

In a red t-shirt and shorts, Camden walks across the living room on his own. He makes his way over to a blue chair before resting his arms onto it. Then he gives the camera a proud smile.  

“Good job, baby,” Mandy says from behind the camera. 

The simple but powerful moment was viewed on Twitter nearly 8 million times. Camden lives in Georgia with his mom, dad and older brother. Mandy told NBC’s Today that he met his development milestones until he was 18 months old. 

“That was when we noticed he was very off balance and was trying to walk but had an abnormal gait not typical of a toddler,” Mandy told Today. “After pursuing many possibilities for the cause, we then visited a local neurologist who conducted an MRI, and that is where we saw the cerebellar atrophy.”

Camden’s cerebellum doesn’t function properly making it difficult to walk, balance or form words. In addition to physical, speech and occupational therapy, the 5-year-old also does horseback riding and intensive robotics therapy. 

Unfortunately, his condition is worsening and doctors are unable to find the gene responsible. Camden joined the Undiagnosed Disease Network, a research study that may provide more information about the mysterious illness. 

“We’ve been told that even if we eventually identify the genes causing his atrophy, because his condition is so rare, he may be the only one identified in the world with this condition, and he alone will write the future for this disease,” Mandy told Today. “We might not be able to help Camden, but we can help others.”

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