Zachary Brown, 17, of Edgewater, Md., a junior at South River High School, organized a local and nationwide 5K walk that has raised more than $100,000 over the past five years to help develop a treatment for cavernous angiomas, an abnormal cluster of blood vessels in the brain or spine. Zach discovered that he had a cavernous angioma in his brainstem after suffering two strokes at age 10, which affected the left side of his body and the right side of his face. “It would have been easy to walk away angry and defeated,” he said, “but instead we decided to do something about it.”
While learning to walk again through physical therapy, Zach came up with the idea of a 5K walk to help fund angioma research. Working with his mother, Zach picked a location, designed T‑shirts, invited friends and classmates to help, recruited business sponsors, and publicized the event on social media. While 150-300 people have participated in the walk locally each year, Zach also promotes a “virtual” walk throughout the U.S. that is open to all. In addition to raising a huge amount of money for the Angioma Alliance, Zach is an active volunteer with Special Olympics, helping kids with disabilities enjoy tennis, lacrosse and track and field sports.