A child’s birthday is often a heartfelt, memorable moment in their childhood that they may cherish for the rest of their lives—— whether it is a small, fun-filled barbeque at the beach, or a day eating pizza and playing arcade games at a local kid-focused entertainment restaurant. Here, in the islands of the Marianas, a child’s birthday is an opportunity for families to come together and be thankful for that child’s good health, their life, and the grace of being a part of it.
For one Jonah Kilimnik, it means so much more than that. Born with a rare and dangerous condition called giant ruptured omphalocele, wherein his abdominal cavity ruptured, causing his organs to invert and expose his intestines, stomach, and other organs outside of his abdomen, Jonah fought against all odds to live to his first birthday, and then his second, and then his third.
Every year, and every new birthday, is a testament to the true fighter in Jonah Kilimnik.
Jonah has been fighting omphalocele for a little over seven years; two days before his birthday, on May 5th, Cage Combat Academy owner and UFC athlete Alexander “The Executioner” Reyes and his wife, Rosalie, led the charge in recruiting UFC athletes, and planning Jonah’s birthday celebration at the gym— just before the crucial surgery that would finally allow Jonah’s organs to be safely covered by his stomach.
Among the UFC athletes recruited, Frank “The Crank” Camacho answered the call.
“We got a message from a friend and fellow UFC fighter, Alex Reyes,” Frank explains, in a sincere video journal he had posed on his official YouTube channel, “calling out to all fighters in the area to spend an hour or two with a kid named Jonah, who was born with an extreme abdominal wall defect called a giant ruptured omphalocele. […] One of Jonah’s wishes for his 7th birthday was to take photos with real UFC fighters. We all made our way.”
The moment he was born, doctors gave Jonah a 0% chance of survival. But, seven years later, he beat all the odds. He has been a fighter his entire life, while enjoying that precious life, the way a normal kid should—- and he is genuinely a good, normal kid; a birth defect will not stop Jonah Kilimnik.
The day of the photoshoot, Jonah was gifted with the knowledge that he was not alone in this fight; there were many people in his corner, supporting him.
Frank “The Crank” Camacho certainly supports him. Meeting Jonah, who’s fighting spirit shone brighter than every light in the room, was a rewarding experience.
Frank had this to say about his new friend, “Jonah was the life of the party, he is such an amazing kid. After all the fight photos we all took, I came to realize that he was more there for us than we were there for him. He’s showing us the way to live life, living it like a true fighter, like a true champion, and I’m super grateful for that. I found inspiration from him, and for that, thank you Jonah. We love you, man.”