North Phoenix Family is pleased to announce the latest winners of the Cutest Siblings contest. Meet Haley and Brendan!
Ten-year-old Haley is a fifth grader at Boulder Creek Elementary School. Her brother, Brendan is five and attends Shepard of the Desert Preschool. The two are both scheduled to attend Annunciation Catholic School beginning next year. This change in schools will bring about many new changes and most excitingly, the opportunity for the siblings to attend school together.
Aside from being adorable, the two youngsters possess many talents and hobbies that contribute to their cute factor. They also share very unique backstories that have grown them into the strong children they are today.
Haley is a dancer of seven years and currently trains at Adaptive Force Performing Arts in Scottsdale. She dances 10 hours a week studying ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap, tumbling and contemporary dance. She is also on the performance and competition teams at the studio.
“Even though dance takes up a lot of her free time, she still maintains good grades and remains an honor student year after year,” said Gina, Haley and Brendan’s mom.
Haley is now excelling in school and extracurriculars and plans to become a therapist who works with special needs children when she grows up. Her success and passion is a happy surprise to her mother. Haley had a rocky start in the very beginning, as she was born nine weeks premature and weighed only four pounds.
“I had doctors telling me that she might have complications as she grew up,” Gina said. “But she beat the odds and is complication-free.”
Brother, Brendan endured similar struggles after birth. He was diagnosed with autism when he was 13 months old and several months later was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, later followed by a speech apraxia disorder. Just this year, he was also diagnosed with ADHD. He is also allergic to all seven major food groups and polyester fabric.
“Brendan had all the odds stacked against him, but he is the hardest working little boy,” Gina shared. “He has not let any of this stop him. He now goes to school with his typical peers and is academically testing above peers his age. He truly has overcome so many obstacles and is the happiest most energetic boy.”
Brendan loves attention and like his sister, he enjoys dancing at the same studio as Haley. Brendan loves to play baseball, go to school, play with cars, go to the movies and enjoys going to Cracker Jax Family Fun and Sports Park. As of now, when Brendan grows up he wants to be a hip hop teacher.
Haley takes great care of her brother and loves to educate her classmates each year during autism awareness month.
“The bond between Haley and Brendan is extremely incredible,” Gina exclaimed. “I know Brendan wouldn’t be where he is if it wasn’t for the help and support of Haley. I am a proud mom of two amazing kids.”
Visit Gina’s blog to read more about Haley and Brendan’s journey: Brendanslifewithautism.blogspot.com
Photos courtesy of Marnee Marriott of Marriott Photography.
Written by: Rebecca Zaner
Rebecca Zaner has written many stories throughout the valley and enjoys having the ability to share community news, journeys and achievements. Holding a Bachelor of Music, Rebecca’s favorite place to be is the stage. Having been a singer all her life, Rebecca is now in pursuit of a professional performing career, singing opera and musical theatre (rebeccazaner.com). Also an avid photographer, Rebecca owns a photography business, Rebecca Kaye Photography (rebeccakayephoto.wix.com/rebeccakaye). She enjoys the natural beauty of Arizona and can be found spending her free time exploring and traveling with her family.