Artist gives unique style to baby's skull saving helmet

Artist gives style to baby's helmet

AVON LAKE - Big brother Louka McClellan snuggles up in Avon Lake to 6 month old baby Max.

Max was born with growth plates in his head that fused together too early.

His Cleveland Clinic Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Dr, Violette Recinos explains the condition called Craniosynostosis.

"The brain is continuing to grow, but the skull cannot grow in the appropriate way to allow for that brain growth," says Recinos

“It was scary,” says Louka and Max’s dad, Jon McClellan.

But surgery corrected the fused skull plates and opened room for growth.

"Literally four hours after his surgery, he was wide awake as happy as can be," says Louka and Max’s mom, Christina McClellan.

Now the sky's the limit for Max in his custom aviator helmet that helps his skull grow and form correctly.

If Max was to be wearing corrective helmets for a year, his parents decided to OWN IT!

“Let's make sure that he looks awesome!," said McClellan, as she set out to find someone to decorate it.

"There's not a market in Cleveland for baby helmet painting," McClellan laughs.

Then they found artist Jan Saunders of North Olmsted.

"When that person has to wear the art all the time you better make it special," says Saunders.

Saunders set out to do it for free.

"It's kids and if there is any way to make them happier or make the parents who have to handle it all happier, I'll do it," said Saunders.

At this point in the story in which the McClellans would not have scripted, they COULD not have scripted, lives were woven in a way they could never have foreseen. 

Max’s fancy pants little aviator helmet was no accident.

"My daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 5," a choked up Saunders says.

"She did not need a helmet, but she had that bald little head so I would paint hats. That way for her it was more 'what hat do you want to wear, than I'm dealing with this'," says Saunders.

"I felt like it was just meant to be. Everything about it. She's such a kind woman. From the moment that we spoke it's like we just connected.  It was like an immediate bond we had," says McClellan.

Jan Saunders knows what it's like to be sitting in front of doctors when so much is at stake.

"Saying ok, I'm trusting you to take care of my gift," Saunders swallows back tears.

Her Emily just celebrated her 30th birthday, and her 25th anniversary as a survivor.

So when you're Emily's mom marking her milestone celebration, Jan tends to pay #TheGoodStuff forward.

"We're all put here to do something so whatever it is and however you can help to do some little piece of good stuff for someone else, it comes back 10 fold," says Saunders smiling and laughs when she adds, “and It’s another thing to paint. Why not give it a try?”

“Max is just the happiest little thing! Just think about it for the first two months he had a headache, head hurting, now nothing bothers him he's just so happy!" says Christina McClellan

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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