Toddler beats medical condition by hiking 180 St. Louis area trails

Toddler beats medical condition by hiking 180 St. Louis area trails
Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 12:04 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Holly Hampton is three years old. She hikes trails by running, climbing, and exploring. By looking at her take on the wilderness, you would never guess that not long ago she weighed two pounds and was fighting for her life.

“Every time I’m out here and I see Holly hiking, I get a little emotional thinking about it,” Holly’s mom Steph Hampton said.

Steph had Preeclampsia, and Holly was born 3 months early. She was in the NICU for 58 days.

“You’ll see that out on the trail today, she is a very determined one,” Hampton said.

It’s the St. Louis area trails that are a big part of Holly’s success story. When she started walking, she had leg braces and her doctor suggested she walk on uneven surfaces to build muscle.

“I think they had meant carpet versus floors but we took that to mean go outside and try trails,” Hampton said, “As a family, we have now hiked over 180 trails and over 150 parks.”

All of the trails are in the St. Louis area or within 100 miles of the city.

Through this process, Holly’s walking got better.

“She has completed her NICU follow-up program a year early and the doctors think a lot of that is due to exploring parks like we have,” Hampton said.

Hampton also says the weekly hikes helped her post-partum depression which she believes is a reason why she didn’t have Preeclampsia with her next pregnancy.

Studies show that hiking at a young age increases motor skills, aids in brain development, and can teach independence.

Hampton saw the benefits hiking had on her family, so she started an Instagram page to share their journey with other families.

Now, Hampton organizes weekly hikes for any parent and child who want to join.

“It’s great for the kids to get out and interact with each other and be in nature,” Hampton said.

You can follow her tips, tricks, and future hiking trips on Instagram @exploreSTLparks or join her Facebook group Nature Play STL.