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SVH: Joey Quail — Inspiring Steps

Joey Quail: Inspiring Steps

Joey and his parents

For most people, walking 3-1/2 miles is a minor accomplishment. But for 10-year-old Joey Quail, it’s what his father Billy calls “the most important thing he’s ever done.”

Born with cerebral palsy, Joey usually gets around in a wheelchair or with canes. But thanks in part to the treatment and encouragement he received from Simi Valley Hospital’s Child Development Center, Joey was able to complete Simi Valley’s March of Dimes WalkAmerica without assistance. Joey’s an extraordinary kid, “an honors student and an avid boxing fan.” In fact, he’s the spokesperson for the youth division of the Retired Boxer’s Foundation. But the walk-a-thon was his biggest Knock Out.

Determined to Walk

Joey first learned about WalkAmerica when he saw an article in Simi Valley Hospital’s employee newsletter, which his mom Debbie, who works here as a nurse, had brought home. “I want to do this,” he said enthusiastically. To sign up, Joey went to see Child Development Center Director Robin Millar, who was coordinating the walk. Ever since his treatment at the Center as a young boy, Joey and his family have developed a special bond with Robin. She provided emotional support early on, and in the years since, has encouraged Debbie to move on from her job as a secretary to training as a nurse. Although Joey’s parents feared the walk might be too difficult, his therapists said it would be okay as long as he trained.

One Step at a Time

And train he did, starting with just half a mile, and walking further every day, for more than three weeks. It wasn’t easy, but Joey persisted, even after his feet developed painful blisters the size of quarters. That determination prompted the March of Dimes to name Joey as its Ventura County youth ambassador, and to kick off the walk-a-thon with a speech. The crowd was moved to tears as Joey told of his intentions to walk. “You inspired me to do this,” he said, perhaps not realizing the inspiration he was providing.

Throughout the walk, his parents pushed a wheelchair beside him — just in case — but Joey refused to use it. Flanked by his school friends, his physical therapist and the Child Development Center staff, he took the route one step at a time. Near the end, his face was red and he looked, as his father said, “as if he’d just run fifty miles.” But he kept going.

A Magical Finish

It was a magical moment when Joey finished the walk. Sirens on fire trucks blared. Cheerleaders spelled out his name. He’d done it! Joey’s special accomplishment is a testimony to his incredible courage, and his family’s positive encouragement. His father also speaks with gratitude of the hospital’s support throughout the years. Besides treating Joey at an early age and helping Joey’s mother advance her career, the hospital also provided financial assistance when Joey needed a special procedure not normally covered by insurance. “The hospital is our guardian angel,” says Joey’s father. “I know they’ll always be there.”