Lending A Helping Hand: Charlie Shuman and Big Helping Little
Maiya Colón is a young toddler, beaming with life and curiosity, much like anybody her age. The only difference is young Maiya is facing the hardest challenge she will ever have to face.
Charlie Shuman is a freshman offensive tackle, playing football for Penn State.
On the surface, these two don’t have anything in common. But in reality, they share a connection that goes above anything else, as it is Charlie’s goodwill that has had such a tremendous impact on Maiya and her family.
Maiya, a native of Rochester, N.Y., was diagnosed with progressive osseous heteroplasia, a rare genetic mutation of the GNAS gene that causes extra bones to develop in locations where bones are not typically found. Not only can this added bone growth cause excessive discomfort, but it can also lead to joint stiffness and, in some cases, permanent immobility in areas.
Maiya has undergone numerous surgeries relating to her condition, which have burdened the Colón family with paying for her medical expenses. On top of that, the family must also pay for traveling costs, as the family has met with specialists from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in order to seek more information about her rare mutation.
This is where Charlie came in to lend a helping hand. Charlie is a 6-foot-8, 305-pound offensive tackle from Pittsford, N.Y. (a suburb of Rochester). During February of his senior year of high school, Charlie heard about Maiya’s condition through her aunt, who works as a physical therapist at Lattimore Physical Therapy — a clinic owned by Charlie’s parents. Charlie wanted to help Maiya and her family and relieve them of their medical expenses, so he started up a project that he called Big Helping Little.
Big Helping Little was initially Charlie’s National Honor Society project, but it has become much more than a simple project ever since it started.
“Big Helping Little was originally started to benefit a little girl that I met through my physical therapist that happened to be the little girl’s aunt. I heard the story, and I heard the costs that were related to the traveling and medical expenses that the family was dealing with, and I wanted to help,” Charlie said. “My parents own a company called Lattimore Physical Therapy, and I have grown up being a part of the Lattimore family, and this little girl is a part of that same family. I wanted to show her and her family what family members could do for each other.”
Charlie set up numerous fundraising events that would raise money for Big Helping Little, including special events at restaurants, benefit walks, and an online fundraiser. In total, more than $47,000 has been raised as a result of Charlie’s goodwill efforts, all of which has been used to pay for expenses relating to Maiya’s condition.
As Big Helping Little continues to grow, Charlie wants to use its influence to help make an impact on others who have been diagnosed with progressive osseous heteroplasia.
“We have not currently turned Big Helping Little into a foundation, but it is my hope that one day it will be able to be an influential foundation,” Charlie said. “Maiya’s mother came to me and said that she wants to help other people that are in her same situation, so we are in the process of changing the mission statement and goal of Big Helping Little to reflect that.”
You can learn more information and donate to Big Helping Little here.