- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

LOYAL, Wis. (AP) - Ayden Schoonover’s great-aunt and fourth-grade teacher, Denise Brussow, sometimes has to remind him to use his “big-boy voice” because he tends to talk in a whisper.

Ayden’s actions and his smile speak with a shout, though, as the 5-year-old has reached an age doctors never thought he would see.

“It is hard to believe how far he’s come and all the things he has overcome,” Ayden’s mom, Lindsey, told Daily Herald Media (http://mnhne.ws/1aZLOAH ). “Being born at 14 ounces, spending 17 months in the hospital, who knew we would be here at Loyal school, going to school in 4K? It is amazing how much he’s overcome.”

Ayden was not given much of a chance to live a normal life. He was born on June 11, 2009, the size of a dollar bill.

He was hooked up to machines to save his life. Before he grew, he lost weight and was a tiny 12 ounces. Doctors said that even if he survived, he would likely face complications that include blindness, deafness or muscular dystrophy.

Fast forward to present day and Ayden is a healthy 5-year-old who has endured multiple surgeries and will represent Children’s Miracle Network through Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield at the network’s 27th annual celebration.

“Ayden has got the most interesting personality,” Brussow said. “The comments that come out of his mouth are pretty adult-like. … Some of the stuff he comes up with, he is just amazing. He is quite a little miracle, but he uses very big vocabulary and is just such a sweet little boy.”

On a recent Friday, the Loyal schools held a school-wide “Tip our hats for Ayden” campaign, which Ayden said was pretty cool.

So did Principal Chris Lindner.

“This is an awesome thing for our school,” Lindner said. “He really is a miracle, and for the school and community to pull together and do a little something is pretty special.”

All students in grades kindergarten through 12th could wear a hat or baseball cap in honor of Ayden - and nearly every student did. Students were asked to pay $1 to wear hats for the day. The money will be donated in Ayden’s name to Children’s Miracle Network, which helps children with serious health complications get the services they need.

“Most of our children in K-12 know Ayden; he has a big family and is from the area,” Brussow said. “He goes to all the athletic events to support the athletes, so he is just a very well-known little boy, so we are excited to be making money for him and for the Children’s Miracle Network.”

“The best part about living in a small community is they back you 100 percent,” Lindsey Schoonover said. “I would never raise my kids anywhere but here. This ‘Tip our hats for Ayden’ was spearheaded by my aunt (Brussow), and I never doubted the community would be behind it.”

Ayden said his favorite class was Ms. Alison’s and his favorite part of school is being with his friends.

“The only issues he has now is non-specific lung disease, which they say he will always have, and his eyes,” his mother said, as Ayden wears glasses and has a lazy eye.

Ayden is in his second year of 4K, but his mom said that that has more to do with his fine motor skills and his social comfort.

But Ayden continues to grow and amaze those close to him.

“Seeing everyone (at the school) in hats made all of us teachers and the kids stop and pause and just think about all he has overcome,” said teacher Alison Schley, or Ms. Alison to her students. “It’s pretty amazing.”

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Information from: Wausau Daily Herald Media, http://www.wausaudailyherald.com

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