Diagnosed with a very rare disease as toddler, AJ Ballard from Waterford was given a very short life expectancy of only 6-8 years and while his condition has worsened over the years, his spirit has not.   Now, at age 10 1/2 , AJ continues to defy the odds set by doctors when he was told he most likely wouldn't make it to 3rd or 4th grade, let alone graduate elementary school.

When given a diagnosis like the one given to AJ, everyday is a gift and every moment should be cherished.

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In a wonderfully touching story shared by the faculty and staff of the Shenendehoah Central School District,  AJ Ballard was seen in photos enjoying a party at his home on Tuesday during a special 5th grade graduation ceremony.

"Since Kindergarten, AJ has had a team of support come to his home to help him on his academic journey – from speech therapy to music therapy – all while overcoming seizures on a daily basis. Through it all, even in this trying year of COVID, AJ has shown just how resilient he is." Shenendehoah CSD 

At AJ's graduation party, streamers, balloons, presents and plenty of friends, family and  faculty adorned AJ while a musical performer played for him live on his backyard deck.

AJ's rare condition leaves him bound to a wheelchair and immobile.

"We have to monitor him all the time for his seizures and heart rate. Because of his immobility, AJ now has scoliosis and a dislocated hip and has to wear a brace to help slow down his spinal curvature," AJ's mom Jennifer explained. 

The faculty and staff at Shenendehoah CSD added, "We wish AJ nothing but the best as he starts Middle School in the fall!"

All of us here at WGNA do as well.

KEEP READING: Here are the most popular baby names in every state

Using March 2019 data from the Social Security Administration, Stacker compiled a list of the most popular names in each of the 50 states and Washington D.C., according to their 2018 SSA rankings. The top five boy names and top five girl names are listed for each state, as well as the number of babies born in 2018 with that name. Historically common names like Michael only made the top five in three states, while the less common name Harper ranks in the top five for 22 states.

Curious what names are trending in your home state? Keep reading to see if your name made the top five -- or to find inspiration for naming your baby.

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