Brantly Poling, 8, is full of life, energy, and sass. He has a smile that comes from his heart, and if you ever have the chance to meet Brantly, you will quickly become his best friend.
Brantly, from Vienna, West Virginia, loves spending time outdoors hunting, fishing, and riding bikes with his little sister, Brylee. If you find him inside, he is likely playing with LEGOS® or watching YouTube. He is in the second grade and thrives in social atmospheres. He serves as the greeting committee for his school.
As active and energetic as Brantly is, he has been through a lot. He was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that results in multiple levels of damage to the nerves throughout the body. Brantly’s spinal defect, which begins at the base of his rib cage and ends at the bottom of his spine, paralyzed him from the waist down. He also has hydrocephalus with a ventriculoperitoneal shunt that relieves pressure on his brain, Chiari 2 malformation, neurogenic bowel and bladder, tethered cord, and more. He has undergone more than 30 major surgeries; multiple invasive procedures; countless hospital stays with IVs, catheters, drains, wires, and cords; received stitches with minimal-to-no numbing; taken a couple ambulance rides; and broken some bones.
His family says his scars give the appearance that he is put together like patchwork. When asked how his medical conditions have affected him, Brantly answers with true spirit, “I just go with it. Some days are hard, but other times it is fun being on wheels.” And, he makes fun happen wherever he is. While spending part of his summer in the WVU Medicine Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, he hosted Nerf battles with the doctors, played pranks on his nurses, and drove his remote control truck to deliver candy around the hospital.
He is blessed with a supportive community and loves to give back for all he has been given. Brantly does not dwell on what he has been through and prefers to think of how he can help others. With a love for random acts of kindness, he enjoys paying for the take-out orders of people behind his family in restaurant lines, takes lunch or snacks to his local police and fire departments, collects toys for WVU Medicine Children’s, and holds doors for others even when it is difficult for him to open the door himself. He even helps restaurant wait staff clear tables. Overall, Brantly has a heart of gold, a love for life, and a strong will that keeps him going when things get a little tough.
Brantly is WVU Medicine Children’s 2020 Children’s Miracle Network Champion Child.