ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER
Fifteen year old Robert McNaughton has a passion for running. Much like his love for running, he lives life putting one foot in front of the other and never gives up until he’s crossed the finish line.
Robert was diagnosed with NF1 when he was only a year old. In elementary school, Robert participated in cross country running. Despite weakness in his left leg, he gave it his all and never gave up, even if it meant coming in last place. “He never quit running until he crossed the finish line,” recalls his father Dave. Robert is now fifteen years old and continues to have a passion for running. “He practiced very hard on his own time and now in his grade ten year he is consistently in the top three in his class,” says Dave. Robert also enjoys taekwondo, and despite being held back a year, he persevered and is gradually moving up in his belt class.
Robert has had fourteen major surgeries due to his NF1. “They have caused much discomfort and time away from school due to recovery,” says Dave. When Robert was younger he had trouble with physical activity which limited him in playing certain sports. “His symptoms include a nodule under the skin below his right eye, numerous café-au-lait spots all over his body, and the right side of his face is slightly bigger.” Robert also has weak vision in his left eye and dental problems related to NF1.
Robert has a wonderful support system in his parents and grandparents, who are there for every surgery and are also very involved with BCNF. “Through this organization we were able to obtain much information, guidance and comfort when Robert was diagnosed with NF1.” Robert and his family raised over $4,000 in just two weeks for the BCNF Scotiabank Charity Challenge where Robert ran the 5 km event. “Robert wrote a personal letter explaining a little bit about his illness with a picture of himself attached asking for donations towards research in finding a cure.” Dave circulated the posters at his workplace, CN Rail.
“The response and generosity of my fellow employees was overwhelming,” recalls Dave. Over $2,500 was donated by employees at CN Rail. The McNaughton family also circulated the posters to friends, neighbours, and at Robert’s school where generous donations continued to pour in.
In addition to running and taekwondo, Robert enjoys travelling to Pokemon tournaments across North America, playing video games, cooking, the scouting program, attending his church’s young adults group, and graphic design. “Even though I have had many surgeries since I was a young child, I never let the recovery time discourage me,” says Robert. “When I am fully recovered, I continue doing the things I enjoy.”