Pirates take toddler to heart

PERKINS TWP. It seems the Perkins High School football team has adopted a new pint-sized mascot.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



It seems the Perkins High School football team has adopted a new pint-sized mascot.

Wanting to give one of their smallest fans a birthday he wouldn't soon forget, the seniors on the team surprised 3-year-old Lake Fondaw with a guest appearance.

Now, the little boy can't stop talking about his football-themed birthday party last month at Osborn Park.

His mother, Carissa, wanted to make his birthday extra-special this year because Lake will soon have a second surgery on his skull for a rare disorder.

Lake was born with craniosynostosis, a congenital birth defect where suture connections in the skull close too early, causing a misshapen head.

Lake's head took on a triangular form at birth.

At five months, he underwent an eight-hour surgery at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, where the Fondaws used to live.

Doctors had to harvest bone from the back of his head to rebuild portions in the front.

Lake returned to the hospital in August for a routine checkup, and doctors said the surgery would need to be redone. His next surgery is scheduled for March 3.

The family's insurance won't cover the procedure, so they are searching for a new provider -- adding stress to the situation.

Lake's development appears to be normal, however, and he attends St. Stephen Kiddie College several times a week.

His fascination with the Pirates grew from watching the games alongside his mother, a Perkins High School graduate, and his baby brother, Westin.

His cousin, Tommy Barnum, is the senior punter on the team.

For his birthday party, Carissa had a Perkins football jersey made and signed by all the players.

"We were going to just give him a jersey and then I had the idea to go to the party," Barnum said. "I didn't think that anyone would want to go but then a bunch of the players said they would go. I was really surprised."

The players showed up in full uniform, accompanied by a few cheerleaders.

They played football with Lake for several hours and crowded around his birthday cake to make a wish for another happy, healthy year.

Barnum remembers his little cousin being star struck.

"It was pretty funny; he was in shock and awe," Barnum said. "He was really quiet at first."

Weeks later, Lake tells everyone he meets about the party, his family says.

He wears a No. 8 on his shirt every day for his cousin Tommy.

It's a day his mother will always remember, too.

"These kids have to have some heart to come to a 3-year-old's birthday party," Carissa said. "It was just great."