Spencer Beal, Age 8, from Dover, Ohio
Sidekicks: His mom, dad and siblings, as well as Dr. Dennis Weiner and the staff at Akron Children’s.
When he’s not busy overcoming obstacles: Spencer enjoys playing outside in the mud and wrestling with his brothers. He also loves to ride his bike and play soccer.
Did you know fact: Spencer is number 5 out of 7 siblings and has an innate ability to find mud and dirt wherever he is.
Why Spencer is a #ACHero: Spencer was born with Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. As part of his care, Spencer has undergone multiple surgeries and dozens of visits to the hospital. While his courage and strength are remarkable, it’s his positive spirit and unwavering smile that help Spencer overcome any obstacle that comes his way.
Spencer’s Story: With his contagious smile, Spencer Beal has made the most difficult circumstances seem easy. Diagnosed with Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, Spencer and his family were faced with an uncommon condition they knew nothing about but, thankfully, they found the care they needed close to home at Akron Children’s.
Spencer’s medical journey started on his first ride to Children’s. Since dwarfism is typically detected before birth, pediatricians were concerned about 5-month-old Spencer’s development and referred him to Children’s for testing to diagnose his condition. Upon arrival to the hospital, Spencer stopped breathing in the family car.
“From the moment we rushed through the doors of Akron Children’s, the entire hospital has wrapped their arms around Spencer and our family,” said Scott, Spencer’s dad. “Within seconds of our arrival we were swarmed by physicians and nurses who knew just what to do…They saved his life.”
Spencer suffered from central apnea, a compression around the cervical spine that cuts off oxygen and blood flow to his brain, which is a complication of his condition. Spencer underwent life-saving neurosurgery to correct the issue, which didn’t cause any long-term effects. He’s since had a dozen surgeries including multiple eye and ear surgeries, as well as leg straightening.
No matter the complexity of the surgery, Spencer doesn’t skip a beat.
“He never complains,” said mom, Brianna Beal. “He just gets on with things and calms everyone down around him by flashing that beautiful smile.”
The leg straightening procedure to correct Spencer’s bowed legs was particularly intense, requiring a large incision in each leg, realigning the bone and muscle with rods and pins. It’s a grueling procedure and recovery, but with Spencer’s 100-watt smile, you’d never know all the young boy has been through.
With every hurdle Spencer has overcome, his condition is relentless in throwing up another one. He’s suffered nearly every complication associated with his condition – motor skill development, compression of the spinal cord, hearing and respiratory issues, vision problems and pain.
In support, Spencer is monitored for his growth and development every 3-6 months at the Skeletal Dysplasia Center where he receives a comprehensive visit with geneticists, pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons, dieticians and therapists. The team has been closely monitoring Spencer for curvature of the spine, a common side effect of his condition, and, so far, he’s been able to avoid back surgery.
“I honestly don’t know what we’d do without Dr. Weiner and his staff,” said Brianna. “To think we have a world-renowned center for Spencer’s condition in our backyard is just amazing and such a gift.”