toddler walking
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
December 17, 2023 ·  4 min read

Toddler with Birth Defect Melts Hearts After Showing his Dog he can Walk

Spina Bifida – when the spine does not fuse together properly and is left in two parts – is the most common birth defect in the United States. There is no known cause, and there is also no cure. In 2018, this two-year-old with the condition melted the internet’s hearts with a video of himself celebrating his first steps with his dog, Maggie. 

Toddler With Spina Bifida Melts Hearts With His First Steps

Roman Dinkel was born with the condition Spina Bifida. Literally translated to “split spine”, meaning his spinal column didn’t close all the way while he was still in the womb. Before he was born, his doctors told his parents that it was highly likely that Roman would not be able to walk. Little Roman, however, continues to defy the odds every single day. (1)

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A post shared by Defying Odds: Roman’s Journey (@defyingodds_romansjourney)

In 2018, his parents shared what might be one of the most adorable videos of all time on his Instagram. The video features Roman walking for the first time using special braces and walking sticks. In the video, he celebrates his achievement with his best furry friend Maggie.

“Look Maggie! I’m walking Maggie!” he cries to her with excitement.

The video is so incredibly cute, it will soften the heart of the grumpiest of people and raise the spirits of anyone going through tough times. On a now closed GoFundMe page, Roman’s parents expressed their amazement of the incredible outpouring of love and support they received from people about the viral video.

“So many people have been reaching out to us wanting to bless Roman,” the page read. “This money will go towards extra medical expenses, medical equipment, and to Roman’s personal bank account. We would also like to donate to a portion of the proceeds to Spina Bifida of greater Kansas City.”

How He’s Doing Today

Now four years old, Roman is doing amazingly well. His parents describe him as an independent, spunky kid that makes everyone around him fall in love with him. His mother regularly updates his Instagram and Facebook pages to fill in his followers on how Roman is doing. 

Now in kindergarten, Roman is as full of life and energy as ever. He never backs down from a challenge. On the page, his mother posts about his experiences and what he is learning at school. She also posts about the struggles, like finding winter boots that fit over his braces or some of Roman’s fears. On January 11, she posted this:

“Yesterday we had a decent day weather wise so the kids played outside after school. Roman is so strange when it comes to playing outside. Sometimes he’s fine when I’m not around him and other times he has a total meltdown.
Yesterday I was grilling some chicken for dinner and he was outside by me paying with his tractor. The neighbors came over to play so he went to the trampoline with them. I was running from in and out of the garage a lot trying to get things cleaned up. Apparently he got off the trampoline and started walking over to the grill and he was calling for me but I didn’t hear him because I was in the garage. I heard him freak out so I ran over to see what was wrong and he just was worried because he didn’t know where I was.
My best guess is that he doesn’t like feeling out of control. So when it’s his idea to go and do things he’s fine but when he wants me he wants me right that second. He is very easily scared of bugs (even though there aren’t many in the winter). There have been many time when a bug is near or he hears a bug and he totally freaks out. I think it’s because he can’t easily and quickly run away from the bugs. So he again feels out of control. I think that’s how he feels when he’s alone outside. He can’t quickly get out of a situation that he doesn’t want to be in and he’s scared of a bug coming or something else happening that he can’t escape from and then it’s a full on meltdown.
I honestly have no idea how to work through this with him. Because when I am there with him he’s fine because he knows I’ll protect him. And I can’t just throw him outside and say good luck. Soooo any suggestions from you guys if you’re still reading this very long post?”

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A post shared by Defying Odds: Roman’s Journey (@defyingodds_romansjourney)

Defying The Odds Every Day

Their Instagram and Facebook pages are very real and don’t shy away from talking about the realities of Roman’s condition. They share both successes and things that are still very much a work in progress. Mostly, they just want to share their story with other parents whose child has a birth defect like Roman and to create more awareness. They want to prove to the world that no matter what setbacks you have in life, perseverance and a positive attitude can get you a long way.

Keep Reading: Dying 9-Year-Old Boy Bailey Cooper Hung On Just Long Enough To Meet His Baby Sister


  1. Toddler With Spina Bifida Proudly Showing His Dog He Can Walk Will Melt You.” Scary Mommy. Cassandra Stone. August 8, 2018.