ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The bond Barry Wilson has with his younger sibling, Daryle Koltay, is unmistakable. Spend five minutes with the two, and your heart will melt. They are closer than ever, bound together by a promise Barry made years ago.
It was the day his baby brother came home from the hospital, a day Barry will never forget. “I didn’t know what to do. You’re young at the time,” Barry explained to News Channel 8.
Daryle did not look like the other babies, Barry explained. The 29-year-old recalls the emotional, confusing moment.
“The earliest memory I have when Daryle comes home, I remember my family doctor told my mom about his condition. That’s the earliest memory I have. I just remember her crying, and I was going, ‘What’s wrong?’”
Daryle was born with a birth defect called microcephaly, a rare, incurable neurological condition where infants are born with significantly smaller heads, causing incomplete brain development.
“You just, it’s hard to take it all in. I just tried to make it as normal as possible for Daryle. I love him so much, I’d do anything for him,” Barry said.
And, that’s where their bond began, that very first day. “It’s my mission in life to protect him. You know, I look at him, and I do anything, anything for him. He’s basically become my whole life.”
Barry vowed from the start that he would be his brother’s protector and best friend and that he would never leave his side. Barry has made good on that promise.
It is now 18 years later, and the two brothers are closer than ever. Daryle functions at a first-grade level, has health problems and needs 24-hour care. He has difficulty expressing himself verbally, but when a smile crosses his face, you can tell how happy he is to be among family. Despite his limitations, his heart is full of love to give.
All these years the family has been wondering how this happened and what caused it. They count their blessings that Daryle is alive and able to be with them. They can’t imagine a life without him.
But, they always wonder how this condition manifested itself in Lisa Koltay’s pregnancy. “I was devastated, absolutely devastated. I cried for weeks and weeks. But, I promised myself I would give the best life possible for my disabled son,” Daryle’s mother said.
“They did all kinds of tests on him and me. They could never figure out how this happened,” Lisa said. She admits that she has very strong memories from her pregnancy. She points out that she remembers getting a lot of mosquito bites from the area where they were living. She also tells News Channel 8 she distinctly remembers having rashes on her feet.
“I know these are symptoms of Zika,” Lisa says. “They could never tell me anything at the hospital. I’m wondering if there was a link back then, and they didn’t know about it.”
Barry and his mother have been talking about microcephaly for years. They admit they talk to anyone who will listen, trying to educate people on what Daryle has gone through his entire life. Then, there was the light-bulb moment.
“I couldn’t believe it a month ago when I first started hearing about the Zika virus,” Barry told us. “I was like, ‘What?’ I had never heard microcephaly talked about before in a news article. It was amazing. Finally!”
Daryle’s mother tells News Channel 8 that while it’s been a tough road, she too is thrilled microcephaly is being talked about all over the news. “I was like, finally, finally, we are going to get some answers. Finally people are going to be educated. Finally my son is going to have a purpose in life,” Lisa said.
Barry says he will be forever grateful to be by his brother’s side. “This has become my purpose, to be with him. It is the most important thing to me that people are educated about microcephaly,” he said.