Hiking for Anni
Stephanie Graham, Vince Vitrano
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
WAUWATOSA - A Wauwatosa family is counting their blessings, and showing how important it is to have a sense of humor when life throws a curve ball.
Anni Luebke is a silly, sweet five-year-old.
"She's very active, very fun," she said her mom Katie said.
But Anni's dealing with a disease that constantly has her family on edge.
"She's always at risk then for the possibility of having the major seizure that could possibly cause brain damage, or change this funny little girl from what she is now," Katie explains.
Anni has a form of epilepsy where her brain is always spiking. She spends countless days in the hospital, where doctors run EEG's to figure out the best form of treatment.
"I don't like the helmet," Anni said, referring to the helmet she wears in the hospital during the EEG.
She explains about the wires under the helmet, "The gooey stuff they put under the wires, and I don't like that gooey stuff."
But Anni has a lot of friends helping her out, including Ryan Herrmann, a man from Milwaukee who is hiking across the country on the American Discovery Trail.
"Part of it is I just wanted to see what I was made of, see if I could do it," Herrmann says.
Herrmann met Anni awhile ago, and wanted to help.
He explains, "It's been a bit of a long road for her, and pretty tough on a little kid."
From city to city, Herrmann is telling Anni's story, and raising awareness about epilepsy.
"It's super cool, everybody's been really nice and generous, we've gotten donations, just running into people on the trail," he said.
Anni and Katie have been keeping up with Herrmann's journey on his Facebook page.
"I think it's a great opportunity for him, and something that he's been able to tie to a good cause to get the word out there for epilepsy," Katie said.
Herrmann has visited Anni in the hospital, where she showed him how to do a 'Tough Face'. Katie explains the tough face, "Her way we just kind of make it silly or something, when she has to go through a treatment or something that's not pleasant."
The Luebke family is tough. With five kids, including two adopted children with special needs, life is all about balance.
"Day by day, lots of prayer, it all works. Chris and I are a really good team," Katie says.
For Anni--the sky's the limit! Her mom asks, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Anni replies, "A neurologist." Katie goes on to explain that Anni hopes to help other kids who have epilepsy.
You can follow Herrmann's hike, and donate to Anni's fundraiser. Here's a link!