When Rocky Manno came home after 11 days at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, Jimmy and Kelly Manno were nervous. The first-time parents had spent only one night at home with their infant son before he required admission to the hospital for jaundice and was quickly moved to intensive care with seizures due to a blood clot in his brain. While in a medically induced coma intended to stop the violent seizures, Rocky experienced a minor stroke. Rocky recovered quickly after his medical team used a non-surgical technique to break up the clot, and returned home when he was 13 days old. His mother, Kelly, says it was a great day when, at 4 months,“ they said, ‘you are done, he is healthy, and we hope we never have to see you again!’”
Although doctors deemed Rocky healthy, they could not predict what, if any, lasting damage he might experience. Kelly says the next few years felt like a “dark time,” watching and waiting as Rocky’s milestones seemed to be delayed. When Rocky reached age 2, their fears were relieved as he dribbled a soccer ball “like no other” and hit free-throws on his toy basketball hoop. Kelly describes baseball, sports in general, and Rocky’s athleticism at a young age as “a big ray of light” indicating no lasting damage from his early medical problems. “Today, he’s a 7-year-old boy and the picture of perfect health,” she says.
It’s fitting that baseball and Rocky’s participation in a Homers for Health fundraising event have brought him back into the spotlight — in a good way— with SSM Health Cardinal Glennon. Rocky slugged his way into a championship spot in the St. Ferdinand Catholic School’s Home Run Derby, moved on to the final round and raised more than $100 in pledges on his own for the program. “I hit eight home runs. I was proud of myself!” Rocky says. “For him to participate in the Homers for Health campaign with Matt Holliday and David Freese, which benefits Cardinal Glennon, who was directly responsible for him doing so well — it’s all come full circle,” Jimmy says.