Kayaking outing Saturday to help children with cerebral palsy

PLATTSBURGH - Chris Mashtare knows what it's like to hear earth-shattering news. His son, Alex, was diagnosed with mild to moderate spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, at 6 months old. It was something that took Mashtare and his wife, Heather, completely by surprise.

"We thought, 'How could this have happened? What could we have done different,'" he said. "It was really devastating."

However, rather than wallow in despair and continuously ponder what-ifs, the Mashtares accepted Alex's diagnosis and moved forward with doing whatever they possibly could to make his life with the neuromuscular condition more comfortable.

Now 2 years old, Alex regularly goes through occupational and physical therapies to counteract the extreme tightness of the muscles in his lower extremities. Alex must also utilize special braces for his legs, shoes for walking and be assisted by a special walker to get around.

"It's just amazing how much it affects a kid's life," said Mashtare. "He sees other kids who can walk and is probably wondering why he can't."

Though Alex and his family have been through a lot because of his condition - which currently has no cure - Mashtare said he knows it could be worse.

"We're fortunate that we have insurance for him," he said. "We know there are families out there who don't."

Knowing that and feeling grateful for all that others have done for them is what fueled the Mashtares in putting together a benefit this Saturday, July 31, for local children living with cerebral palsy, particularly ones whose families don't have insurance to cover their necessities.

"We're looking to raise money for those kids so they can get what they need and deserve," said Mashtare.

Having a passion for kayaking, the Mashtares reached out to their friends, Patty and Dave Husband, owners of the Kayak Shack, for help in putting on a rather unique benefit.

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