KANSAS CITY, Mo. (FOX4KC) — A toddler in the Chiefs Kingdom is cheering on the team with some custom headgear designed by a local Kansas City artist.
11-month-old twins Hayden and Jett Nash were born seven weeks premature. A physical therapist diagnosed the boys with torticollis, muscle tightness on one side of the neck, which causes the head to tilt to one side, and plagiocephaly, a flat spot on the side of the head.
To help with the condition, when they were seven months old, the brothers were prescribed band helmets to wear 23 hours a day. The helmet is worn for roughly 10 weeks, and although Jett no longer wears one, Hayden had to get a second helmet to continue treatment.
“When you’re out and about, no one wants for someone to look at their kid and feel sorry for them or feel some sort of negative response,” said Chad Nash, Hayden and Jett’s father.
Band helmets typically come in singular colors, but Chad’s mother, Nancy Walker, had an idea.
She reached out to local artist Cynthia Burris and asked if she would paint a custom helmet for Hayden to wear, and as a Kansas City Chiefs superfan, it had to be Chiefs-themed.
I felt so honored that they chose me! It was a very emotional experience. Just knowing what this family had already been through, how close they are as a family, and how incredibly nice they all are…I was misty eyed throughout the process. To be able to change how other people view cranial helmets is an amazing feeling. I know when Hayden wears his helmet in public people won’t look at it like a medical device and wonder what’s wrong. I think the perception shifts to “Oh my goodness, he has a Chiefs helmet! How adorable!!”Cynthia Burris
Burris took on the challenge and designed headgear for Hayden that mimics a Kansas City Chiefs football helmet.
“We don’t really go out to too many places with them just because they’re still little, but when we do, they almost just look twice like they can’t believe that it’s a Chiefs’ helmet,” said Megan Nash, Hayden and Jett’s mother.
Hayden debuted his Chiefs headgear ahead of the Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the result of the game, Chad and Megan are calling Hayden and his helmet a good-luck charm for the team.
“We ruled that game, and hopefully, going into this next game with the Bills, we can repeat that feeling!” Chad said.
Chad said the helmet also helps with the stigma surrounding the helmet.
“When people see the Chiefs’ helmet, as opposed to a white helmet, the negativity around the whole helmet subsides,” Chad said. “Instead of being a negative thing like, ‘Aww, they have a helmet,’ it’s ‘Hey That’s pretty neat!'”
While the custom helmet helps make the best out of Hayden’s situation, Chad and Megan said that affording the plagiocephaly treatment is another obstacle Insurance views the band helmets as cosmetic and not a necessity. Therefore, they were not covered.
“Studies have shown that when the head’s not shaped just perfectly, that there can be developmental delays down the road,” Chad said.
Megan said if they hadn’t decided to get the helmets for the boys, in the future, they would have trouble wearing other headwear or eyewear like sports helmets or glasses.
“We were fortunate enough that we could get the helmets, but for some families that can’t afford them, it’s a shame because it can affect them later down the road,” Megan said.
Hayden and Jett’s parents applied for a grant with the United Healthcare Children’s Foundation and were awarded assistance that helped pay a large portion of the cost.
“This takes the pressure off that Off having people come up and ask us, ‘What’s the helmet is all about?'” Chad said. “Especially being in the playoffs now, it’s more of a positive thing like, ‘Hey, we love the boy’s helmet and Go Chiefs!”