Alzein Pediatric Associates Now Cares For Patients Until Age 26!

Your children are now covered by your health insurance until the age of 26, which helps them stay healthy – physically, emotionally and financially. However, finding a new primary care physician they can trust while searching for a job, finishing an education, or finding an apartment is probably not on their list of priorities. Not having a familiar medical professional to turn to when your child is ill or injured, or needs an annual physical to ensure continuing good health is a real problem confronting many families today.

To help all our patients and their families access outstanding, regular health care through this transition, Alzein Pediatric Associates announces that we are now caring for the health and well-being of your child from cradle to CAREER!

Now, your children can continue to see their Alzein medical professionals until the age of 26. Our new policy makes it simpler for you to continue insurance coverage. It also makes it easier for your child to maintain their good health with an annual physical or make an urgent illness or injury appointment. Alzein Pediatric Associates has been a trusted member of your family for decades – and now we look forward to caring for your children for a few years more.

If your child has not had a physical in more than a year, call Alzein Pediatrics at 708-424-7600 to make an appointment. We are here to care for the health and well-being of your children, now from cradle to CAREER!

Helping our children through shootings.

Our children no longer feel safe.

Whether it’s at school, the movies, or the mall, the increase in guns and the decrease in mental health wellness have caused our children to be on edge, afraid for their lives – almost constantly.

Our children no longer feel safe. 

When a mass shooting occurs, as they do with sickening frequency, we are always forced to confront many questions. Here at Alzein Pediatrics, the most important question for us and our families is “how can we help our children?”

Turn off the news and deactivate social media accounts.
After you and your child have heard the news and the situation is contained, turn it all off. The relentless recycling of the stories, the politically charged postings and the constant flow of images can make your child – and you – become stuck in the terror of the moment, long after law enforcement has secured the situation.

Ask and answer questions.
Don’t tell your child not to think about it, or say you don’t want to talk about it. Your child needs your emotional support as they piece together their own feelings of shock, outrage and helplessness. If you are uncomfortable discussing a traumatic event, click here for resources that can help you establish a helpful rapport with supportive, understanding affirmations.

Understand behavior changes and get help.
Your child – at any age, including teens – may need to sleep on the floor of your bedroom, or may need to keep a light on all night long. Your child may not want to leave the house, may start having social or academic troubles in school, or may start nervous habits like hair plucking, nail biting or chewing on clothes. You may see bursts of rage, clinginess or dangerous social behaviors. Don’t make consequences your first plan of action. Communicate openly with your child and ask what they are thinking about when these behaviors occur. Talk through their fears and anxieties. If your child continues troubling behaviors or if they escalate, contact your Alzein Pediatric Associates medical professional and make an appointment. We can determine if your child will need small skills to help them through this time, or if greater help is necessary for your child to be fully healthy again.

Let them have their own voice.
The recent shooting in Parkland Florida has shown us what can happen when students become their own advocates. Encourage your child to become involved. Help them contact elected officials at the local, state and federal levels. Be willing to support them during protests. When your child reaches out to lawmakers, joins in a boycott or contacts a media outlet, they regain a feeling of power and protection.

Support the American Academy of Pediatrics and Alzein Pediatric Associates in our fight for gun violence prevention.
The AAP has always been an advocate for children and their right to feel safe and to grow up safely. The AAP lobbies to enact stronger gun laws, support violence prevention programs, research gun violence, protect the role of physician counseling and help children and families access crucial mental health services. To read more about the AAP’s position, click here.

If you are concerned about your child’s reaction to any mass shooting or public tragedy, call Alzein Pediatrics at 708-424-7600 immediately, or reply to this email. We are here to help all our families live, grow and thrive safely.

Castle Connolly Awards and Chicago Magazine Recognizes Dr. Hassan Alzein with America’s Top Doctor® Distinction


Evergreen Park  – Alzein Pediatric Associates is pleased to announce Dr. Hassan Alzein has been selected as a Castle Connolly America’s Top Doctor® for 2018.

Dr. Alzein earned his medical degree in 1988 and then completed his residency at the University of Illinois Chicago in 1994. He is board certified in pediatrics and is the founder of Alzein Pediatric Associates, with offices in Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn.

Both Dr. Alzein and his practice are well known for their exceptional commitment to pediatric healthcare while forming life-long relationships with patients and their families. Dr. Alzein has special interest in ADD and ADHD, asthma and allergies. He has extensive experience working with critically ill children and newborns in while serving in Pediatric Intensive Care Units in Chicago’s southwest suburbs. Continuing education keeps Dr. Alzein and the practice medical professionals at the leading edge of evidence-based advances in pediatric technologies, theories and treatments.

“We are committed to honest communication about pediatric treatments for our patients. Our families are urged to vaccinate their children whenever possible to prevent catastrophic health problems, to be screened for behavioral and developmental challenges and to follow up with any recommended specialists when an issue is identified. We are committed to seeing our patients grow up healthy, happy and sound, in body and in mind,” said Alzein.

An uncommon dedication to both the local and international community also sets Dr. Alzein apart. The practice offices are permanent donation locations for SWADDLE, the Southwest Area Diaper Depository for Little Ends, collecting disposable diapers of all sizes that are then repackaged and given to families in need through social service agencies. Each office also houses a Little Free Library, which encourages families to “take a book, leave a book”, ensuring that books that are outgrown by older patients will be embraced and enjoyed by younger patients. Dr. Alzein is also a founding member of SAMS, Syrian American Medical Society and has completed several missions overseas, most recently in Lebanon, to care for refugee children.

Patient mom Sarah Cordova-Bennett relates how Dr. Alzein became her child’s pediatrician before he was even born. “From the moment my son was born, Dr. Alzein was in constant contact with the hospital. My child’s body temperature was not rising, and he was jaundice. Dr. Alzein was extremely kind and compassionate and put all my worries at ease. For these past 10 years, (Dr Alzein and the staff of Alzein Pediatrics) never stopped advocating for my family’s health and well-being.”

Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. researches physicians at every community hospital in the nation, identifying those who are properly credentialed and licensed. Physicians awarded the Top Doctor recognition are nominated by physician peers and other healthcare professionals. These nominators consider both professional criteria and soft skills such as empathy, listening, communicating, inspiring trust and confidence. A commitment to patient education is considered. Credentials of nominated physicians are then reviewed by a Castle Connolly physician-led team before recognition is awarded.

Dr. Alzein was also recognized by Castle Connolly America’s Top Doctors® in 2014 and by in 2017. The practice was certified a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) in 2017. He is affiliated with Little Company of Mary in Evergreen Park, Advocate Christ/Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn and Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

Should Illinois Make My Decision About Youth Football?

Brain damage and sports injury concept


In late January, state Rep. Carol Sente introduced the Dave Duerson Act. The Act, named for the former Chicago Bear who committed suicide in 2011, would ban tackle football for children younger than 12 years old. The Act is a response to the increasing proliferation of reports of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE, in football athletes.

CTE is a progressive, irreversible disease of the brain which is found in people who have a history of repeated hits to head. These can be hits that cause concussion, or may be subconcussive hits, events that do not cause symptoms. Symptoms of CTE include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, loss of impulse control, depression, the inclination to suicide, Parkinson’s diseases and progressive dementia.

At Alzein Pediatric Associates, the health of your child’s brain is as important to us as it is to you. We’re here to answer your questions about concussions, football safety and CTE.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a jolting injury to the brain. That movement within the skull case can cause bruising and damage to blood vessels and nerves. Your child may “see stars”, have their vision affected or lose their sense of balance or equilibrium, even for as short a time as a few minutes. Your child does NOT have to lose consciousness to have a concussion.

How do I know if my child has a concussion after the impact or injury?

Call our office immediately, or bring your child to Urgent Care if she displays any of these signs:

•  Confusion, being dazed, loss of balance, even for just a few minutes

•  Nausea or vomiting

•  Headache or dizziness

•  Sluggishness, clumsiness, sleepiness

•  Slurred speech

•  Blurred or altered vision

•  Sensitivity to light or to noise

•  Ringing or buzzing in ears

•  Behavior or personality changes

  • Difficulty concentrating or memory loss

Your child should have a CAT scan to determine if there is any bleeding in the brain that will require intervention or treatment.

Can my child get a concussion without playing sports?

Yes. Concussions in children are more common than in adults, even without involvement in high impact sports. A fall, bump or impact to the head can cause concussion.

Why are concussions dangerous?

At worst, a concussion can cause bleeding in the brain, damaging both physical and intellectual functioning permanently. Without proper recovery from the mildest of concussions, your child is at a much higher risk for another concussion. Repeated concussions or repeated subconcussive events have devastating effects on your child’s brain, and have been shown to cause CTE.

Why is tackle football a problem?

Unfortunately, no matter how good helmet technology gets, it’s still not effective in preventing concussions. When a player gets hit, his brain jars, jolts and bumps within his own skull. No helmet – or technology – in the world can prevent the interior impact of brain against bone. With every hit your child takes, whether it causes a concussion or not, his brain sustains an injury.

Why is youth football a problem?

The brain hits an important development phase between the ages of 10 and 12, and the newest data shows a strong association that repeated hits – not just diagnosed concussions – to the head before the age of 12 will cause significant problems. The study shows a 3-fold increased risk of behavioral problems, apathy, elevated depression and loss in executive functioning – even if the subject stopped playing football after high school.

What are the experts recommending?

At this point, researchers are still collecting and validating data, but the science strongly indicates that repeated hits before the age of 12 leads to both short- and long-term neurological consequences.

Do you have questions about sports injuries and your child’s safety? Call our office at 708-424-7600. We are always happy to help you make the best decision for your family’s health!

Put down that aspirin!

Round white pills and plastic pill bottleWinter brings a raft of viral infections to homes, schools, daycares, churches and other gathering places. Your Alzein Pediatric Associates medical professionals know that these colds, flus and other illnesses make your family miserable, and that you’d like to use over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve fevers, muscle pain, upset stomaches and more.

While there are, of course, a variety of safe, effective medicines, we here at Alzein remind you to never give your child aspirin or any OTC drugs containing aspirin, unless specifically prescribed by your physician.

The use of aspirin in treating viral illnesses in children under the age of 20 has been strongly linked to the potentially fatal Reye syndrome. Reye syndrome causes swelling in the liver and brain, permanent damaging and disabling your child. Without treatment, Reye syndrome is fatal within days.

Do not give your child any medications that lists as an ingredient:

  • Aspirin
  • Acetyl salicylate
  • Salicylic acid
  • Salicylate
  • Subsalicylate

Read labels carefully, as OTC medicines such as Pepto-Bismal, Kaopectate and Alka-Seltzer and their generic equivalents contain aspirin. 

Rarely, Reye syndrome can develop in children who have a metabolic condition, or who may have been exposed to toxins such as paint thinner, weed killing chemicals and insect killing chemicals.

You’ll notice Reye syndrome developing after your child has started a cold, the flu, or other illnesses, anywhere from a day or two to two weeks. Watch for:

• Diarrhea

• Rapid breathing

In children younger than two

• Frequent and persistent vomiting

• Aggressive, violent or irrational behavior

• Confusion, hallucinations, slurred speech

• Seizures or convulsions

• Fatigue and overall sleepiness

In children over two

Early diagnosis and treatment will save your child’s life. If you suspect your child has Reye Syndrome, or that someone has given your child aspirin or a product containing aspirin to treat a recent illness, call our office or go to the Emergency Room immediately. 

Medical professionals will order diagnostic tools that may include blood and urine tests, a spinal tap, biopsy of the liver or skin, a CT scan or MRI. Your child will remain in the hospital for treatment, receiving fluids and medications to increase urination, decrease swelling and prevent bleeding. Your child may receive machine assisted breathing help if needed.

Prevent Reye syndrome by stressing to all your children’s caregivers that, to a child under 20, aspirin can be deadly. Give only acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). Keep aspirin and aspirin related products well out of the reach of your children.

If you have any questions about Reye syndrome, or about prescription medications containing aspirin that your child may be currently taking, call our office at 708-424-7600. We are always happy to answer your questions, keeping your family in optimal health and safety.

Alzein Pediatric Associates Awarded Highest Level of Patient-Centered Care By NCQA

Alzein PatientCenteredMedical HomeDr. Hassan Alzein and the entire staff of Alzein Pediatric Associates is proud to announce that the practice has received a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NQCA).

“We are honored by this designation,” said Dr. Alzein. “The medical professionals here, Dr. Katherine Riff, Dr. Joanne Sundermeier, Kathleen Molloy, PA-C, Stephanie Cermak PA-C and myself have always been committed to our patients, from the smallest newborns to our teenagers who have been with us their entire lives. Our professional staff, including Charlene Synoga, Marie Armstrong and Kimber Nosalski, are also devoted to our patients and our practice. We are very grateful for this certification.”

NCQA is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 with the goal of improving the quality of health care. An NCQA seal is evidence that the practice has passed a rigorous and thorough review, including management techniques, high quality health care and outstanding customer service.

“NCQA’s formula is Measure. Analyze. Improve. Repeat. We have very much the same philosophy here,” said Dr. Alzein. “We are always looking for ways to make our patient’s experience better. We are constantly working towards shorter wait times, longer patient visits, more streamlined financial procedures, and of course, always improving our care with compassion and attention.”

Accreditation by the NCQA requires meeting more than 60 demanding standards in over 40 areas. Meeting a Level 3 Accreditation means that Alzein Pediatrics has made a strong and significant commitment to improving health care techniques while lowering costs, resulting in healthier and more satisfied patients. As a PCMH, Alzein Pediatrics patients have been shown to receive better care when they need it and have fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Alzein Pediatrics medical and office professionals are also shown to be happier, and communicate that positive attitude to their patients.

“Working together as a team, putting our patients first and understanding the importance of the care we provide has resulted in our Level 3 PCMH designation,” said Dr. Alzein. “I am very thankful to our doctors, our physician assistants, our staff and to the NCQA for recognizing the Alzein Pediatric Associates. We have always worked to make our patients the center of our practice, and we are thankful that the NCQA has agreed that we do.”

It happens seemingly overnight…

Measuring Blood Sugar Level Of Teen Girl With GlucometerType II diabetes gets all the press, mainly because the disease can be preventable and can often go into full remission with lifestyle changes.

Type I diabetes, or juvenile diabetes, is a very different story. Scientists still don’t understand what causes Type I diabetes. About 15,000 kids are diagnosed with Type I each year and in an ironic twist, about 15,000 adults are diagnosed too, making “Type I” a much more accurate name that “juvenile” diabetes. For the 3 million American children and adults diagnosed with Type I diabetes, it’s a condition that they will never outgrow; there is no cure.

Type I diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar, being overweight or eating too many processed foods. Type I diabetes happens when your child’s immune system destroys the beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. In a healthy person, the pancreas is constantly adjusting the insulin production to regulate blood sugar. In Type I diabetes, the pancreas cannot produce the insulin, resulting in uncontrolled blood sugar levels.

Symptoms of Type I diabetes include:

  • Noticeably increased and extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Lethargy or extreme tiredness
  • Fruity or sweet-smelling breath
  • Dry mouth or itchy skin
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Cuts or sores that are very slow to heal

Type I diabetes symptoms happen suddenly, in a matter of days, and may create a panic in you and your child. Your Alzein Pediatrics medical professionals will order one of a variety of blood tests. Your child may have to fast overnight.

If your child is diagnosed with Type I diabetes, her blood sugar levels will have to be carefully monitored several times each day. The goal of treatment is to keep her blood sugar level normal, about 80-120 mg/dL before meals, and no higher than 180 mg/dL two hours after eating. Treatment includes diet changes and monitoring carbohydrates, proteins and fats, regular exercise and weight management, and using insulin when necessary. Insulin is administered through injections or a pump, a pod of insulin connected to a catheter inserted under the skin near the stomach.

Many factors affect a Type I diabetic’s blood sugar including insulin intake, eating too much or too little, certain medications, illness, stress, puberty and menstrual cycles.

When blood sugar spikes, your child will feel very thirsty, urinate frequently, have blurred vision and may feel hungry. His breath may smell fruity or sweet, he could become confused, exhausted or begin vomiting. High blood sugar leads to diabetic ketoacidosis, when his body starts burning fat and tissue for energy, releasing toxic ketone acids, leading to coma.

When blood sugar dips, your child will feel sweaty, and may experience blurry vision, clumsiness, dizziness and have trouble concentrating. Low blood sugar leads to seizures and coma and can be fatal.

If you suspect your child has Type I diabetes, call Alzein Pediatrics at 708-424-7600 immediately for an Urgent Care appointment. We’ll check your child’s overall health, order diagnostic tests and do all we can to relieve symptoms. If your child is diagnosed with Type I diabetes, we’ll work with you and your child to create a treatment and management plan that will keep your child at maximum health.

Questions about Type I diabetes or your child’s general health? Please feel free to call; we are always happy to talk to our families!

Blurp! Why does my baby spit up?

First teeth are going

It’s a common hazard of parenting. You’re ready to leave the house, cleaned up and dressed up, when your baby suddenly spits a blob of drippy, smelly curdled milk all over your shoulder.

Yuck. Why does this happen and is there anything you can do to help? Alzein Pediatric Associates explains here.

“Spit happens” because babies are born with an immature lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This muscle is located where your baby’s esophagus, the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach, meets the stomach. In new babies, the LES is not yet strong enough to close tightly to seal the stomach from the esophagus, so stomach contents flow back into the esophagus, into the throat and out of mouth. This is known as infant reflux or infant acid reflux.

About 50% of healthy babies experience infant reflux and will spit up after meals. While it seems like spitting up can last forever, and some LES muscles take nearly a year to fully mature, many infants will stop spitting up by the time they are about 7 months old and can sit upright without help.

When that spit up dribbles down your baby’s front, you may worry that your child is losing most of what he or she just ate. In reality, normal spit up is just a teaspoon or two. Rest assured your baby is typically still getting all the nutrition she needs.

It’s important to distinguish between spit up and vomiting. When your child spits up, she hardly notices it, and will still play or laugh without missing a beat. The spit up just dribbles out, often prompted by a burp. Vomit, on the other hand, spews out with force, shooting out of his mouth and causing your child to react with distress as if in pain.

A weak LES is also what causes gastrointestinal reflux disease in adults, resulting in heartburn. This connection has caused an increase in the prescribing of acid-suppressing medicines for infants. Before any such drastic measures are taken, we will give your baby a full exam, including carefully checking weight gain progress. Very few babies will require a prescription for spitting up.

You can’t eliminate spit up entirely until your child’s LES matures, but you can do a few things to help lessen the occurrence.

  • Hold your baby in an upright position when feeding him, especially from a bottle, and keep him upright for at least 30 minutes after.
  • Make sure the hole in the bottle’s nipple is not too large, which causes gulping, or too small, which causes the swallowing of air.
  • Ask Alzein Pediatrics about a formula change if bottle feeding.
  • If you’re breast-feeding, ask Alzein Pediatrics about how changes in your diet may relieve your child’s spitting up.
  • Burp frequently and thoroughly, about every 3-5 minutes during feeding.
  • Don’t bounce or jostle your baby for about 30 minutes after feeding.
  • Don’t start cereal or solids before your Alzein Pediatric medical professional gives the okay.

While most spit up is perfectly normal, there are times to be concerned. It’s time to call Alzein Pediatric Associates when:

  • Your baby isn’t gaining weight.
  • Your baby vomits rather than spits up.
  • The spit up is green, yellow, or shows signs of blood, like red or brown.
  • Your baby is refusing the bottle or breast.
  • You see blood in your baby’s diaper.
  • Your baby has a fever, difficulty breathing, is listless or shows other signs of illness.
  • Your baby starts spitting up after 6 months of age or older.

If you have questions about spit up, or any other health concerns, call us at 708-424-7600. We may help you tweak diet or feeding habits, or make an appointment to see your baby and analyze weight gain and growth. We are always here to help!

Just a cold? Just a sniffle? Or is it RSV?

baby boy without hair beating the disease isolated on

Autumn brings us crisp apples, fallen leaves, pumpkin carving – and Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). From late fall through early spring, RSV can gallop through schools, day cares and other places where children and adults gather.

As a matter of fact, most children will contract RSV at some time in their first two years of life. Because there are many kinds of RSV, getting it once doesn’t provide immunity; your child – and you – can get it again and again.

For most people, adults and children included, RSV will present as a cold, with symptoms such as:

  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing

Most RSV infections resolve themselves within a week or two, helped along by typical care for a cold; rest, plenty of fluids, suctioning mucus from the nose, and, with Alzein Pediatric Associates go-ahead, acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (such as Motrin) for fever. You may consider using a cool-mist vaporizer, cleaned daily, to keep mucus from clogging noses and lungs.

Remember – never give your child younger than 20 years old aspirin for a viral infection, as aspirin can cause Reye syndrome, a life-threatening disease. 

However, RSV can be particularly dangerous when it spreads to the lower respiratory tract. There, it will cause pneumonia or bronchiolitis. Call our office immediately if your child, or any family member, shows these symptoms:

  • Mid-grade fever
  • Severe cough
  • High-pitched wheezing when your child exhales, or breathes out
  • Difficulty breathing, especially when lying down
  • Cyanosis – a bluish color in your child’s lips, nostrils, fingertips or toes.

Your infant or toddler is especially at risk of contracting RSV and requiring hospitalization for treatment if:

  • Born prematurely, at or before 29 weeks
  • 6 months or younger in age
  • Younger than 2 years old with heart or lung conditions
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Have difficulty swallowing, coughing or blowing the nose, with neuromuscular disorders

When your child is at greater risk of RSV, your Alzein Pediatrics medical staff can help. Monoclonal antibodies, given in monthly doses for about five months, can halt the virus from multiplying in your child’s body, not actually preventing RSV, but containing the virus to a mild infection.

Call Alzein Pediatric Association immediately, or head to an Urgent Care if your child or family member experiences these symptoms:

  • High fever
  • Chest, belly and skin pull in with each breath; difficulty breathing
  • Has cyanosis
  • Has a persistant cough
  • Refuses food or drink
  • Is unusually tired or fussy

The best way to avoid RSV complications is to prevent the virus in the first place. Like any virus, washing hands frequently and thoroughly (sing “Happy Birthday” slowly as you wash with a mild soap) is the best defense. Keep your child, especially infants younger than 6 months, away from people with cold symptoms. Wash toys daily. Wipe down kitchen and bathroom surfaces often. Don’t share cups or eating utensils, or eat from the same plate of food. Throw away used tissues immediately.

Don’t smoke! Children exposed to smoke are at a higher risk of contracting RSV and of developing more dangerous complications.

Have questions about RSV or think your child may have been exposed to RSV? Call Alzein Pediatric Associates at 708-429-7600. We’ll do all we can to help!

Get to know Darius Sanders


Alzein Pediatric Associates loves to share our patients’ stories. Darius Sanders has been our patient since he was a newborn and now he’s a world champion. While he’s always been a champion with us, we hope you enjoy his story. 

Glenwood Teen Roller Skating World Champion Looks Toward Summer Olympics 2020

– As the International Olympic Committee edges towards recognizing roller figure skating as a full-fledged Olympic sports, one Glenwood family is watching particularly closely. Darius Sanders laced up his first pair of roller skates when he was 4 years old, two years after the IOC first selected roller sports for consideration to be an official part of the Olympic Summer Games.

Today, 14-year-old Darius, along with his partner Samantha Krusza of Lynwood, is a United States Rolling Figure Skating Champion, winning the title in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is hoping to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan as a fully-recognized Olympic athlete.

Darius began skating free style with his family at an early age. Mom Cassandra was a competitive skater and Dad Philip and brother Philip Jr. love to skate as well.

“It’s a different type of physical activity than the more traditional sports,” says Philip Sanders. “Baseball and soccer are fine, but skating is just great overall exercise. Skating works out your whole body.” Sanders shows a great deal of concern about the childhood obesity crisis and strongly advocates skating as a factor in the solution.

“Not only do your leg muscles get exercise with the spinning and jumping – those skates are about 10 pounds apiece – and your arms get a workout with lifts, and your lungs and heart get a workout too,” says Sanders.

Darius has skated in competitions all over the country, including Nebraska and New Mexico. He is on track to compete in Poland in 2018. As a world-class skater himself, Darius is now competing at higher levels.

“Now he’s moving up a level and feeling a little frustrated,” smiles Sanders. “He is used to winning those first place medals and now, against older skaters, he’s placing down on the podium. I tell him, “Now is not your turn. Your turn is coming. You will get older and stronger, and you’ll be even better than that guy is now.” But he still wants those firsts.”

That work ethic is something coach Anita Roberts noticed a long time ago. “I’ve been working with Darius since he was a tiny tot, just 4 years old. He is a conscientious skater and a hard-working skater.”

Coach Julie Jessup agrees. “I’ve been working with Darius for three years now and he is just a joy to work with.”

As part of the Glenwood Skate Club and the Lynwood Skate Club, Darius has accumulated well over 100 medals over the course of his skating career. He is an expert at the fluid arabesques, majestic jumps, and stunning spins that make up a figure skating routine. He loves to spin; he is fast and he is smooth. The lifts he performs with Samantha are considered signature moves. Darius also loves to ice skate, but finds the difficulty of managing four wheels a more satisfying challenge.

Darius began high school this fall and discovered that all that skating has also made him an remarkably quick sprinter. So far, he remains focused on skating and getting to competitions in Paris, in Poland and to the 2020 Olympics.

Getting there does require considerable financial support. To raise funds for coaching costs, travel fees, uniforms and equipment, Sanders has set up a GoFundMe page, Contributions of any size are welcomed and deeply appreciated.

When the IOC recognizes roller figure skating as an Olympic Sports, Darius Sanders will be there, skates on and ready to spin.

Do you have a story about your child you’d like to share? We’d love to help! Email and we’ll contact you.