Meet Pavement Pounder
Caroline Mizer, Age 12, from Bath, OH
Caroline Mizer was a thriving 3 year old when her parents and preschool teachers noticed she was holding books a bit closer during story time. Thinking she may need glasses, they scheduled an eye exam. The results were far from 20/20; Caroline was losing her sight.
“We went from a basic vision test to getting an MRI to confirming she had optic nerve tumors on both eyes,” said Caroline’s mom, Ann. “It all happened quickly … the hope was we could get her on treatment right away to slow the growth of the tumors.”
Caroline started chemotherapy treatments every week for 72 weeks. The demands – physical, emotional and logistical – were difficult on Caroline and her family. The Mizer family knew they needed to bring all of Caroline’s care under one roof.
Akron Children’s Hospital provided the ideal location and perfect blend of care for Caroline.
During treatments, Caroline never complained. Instead she found comfort with a new-found friend with Doggie Brigade volunteer Donald Wiesel and his labrador retrievers.
“I don’t think Don and the dogs missed but maybe one or two of Caroline’s treatments…Caroline really enjoyed spending time with them each week, especially Rosie,” said Ann. “We’re so thankful to Don and his dogs for their time.”
Although treatment was started right away, the damage from the tumors was irreversible. Caroline lost her vision between preschool and the summer before kindergarten.
Caroline’s school was ready for her when she started that fall, providing help with braille instruction, cane orientation and mobility instruction, and integrating her in the classroom.
As Caroline got older, she noticed more of her friends trying sports. Caroline wanted to play, too.
Girls on the Run seemed like a perfect fit. The 10-week program teaches girls how to improve confidence through learning and fun activities, culminating with 3.1-mile (5k) run at the end of the session.
Caroline’s dad, Kevin, also started working with Caroline to figure out a comfortable and safe way to run together.
“We found a swimming diver ring was ideal because it gave her some distance but kept her close enough that we could talk about the course to help her visualize,” Kevin said.
Caroline’s Girls on the Run running buddy began using the same ring at practices.
“It’s so great to see Caroline as part of a team,” said Kevin. “The program really allows her to be with her peers in a very social and positive way.”
Caroline has already completed several 5k races and, with her determination, many more to come.
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