November 25, 2008 12:35 am
Mountain View High School student Donevian Snipes sells ‘Olivia’s Angels’ T-shirts for $10 each to help teachers Doug and Katie Werner with medical expenses for their daughter.
By CATHY DYSON
From the football team to the National Honor Society, students and staff at Mountain View High School are rallying to help two fellow Wildcats.
Doug and Katie Werner are teachers and coaches at the Stafford County school. They’re also the parents of Olivia, a 10-month old with a happy smile and her father’s big blue eyes.
Olivia recently was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Syndrome, known as SCID. Because of a defect in her immune system, she wasn’t able to fight off bacteria and infections.
She needed a bone-marrow transplant, and her mother was a match. The two moved temporarily to Durham, N.C., so Olivia could be treated by doctors at Duke University Medical Center.
She had the transplant last week and will have to stay in an apartment–away from others and their germs–for several months, until her body accepts the new bone marrow.
Her mother took a leave of absence and has lost a month’s pay, so far. Her father maintains his job and their home during the week, then drives three hours to North Carolina every weekend and on school breaks.
The situation would be tough for any young family, but the Werners, it seems, have the whole school behind them.
“We call ourselves the Wildcats, and this just goes to show that we’re all part of the Wildcat team,” said Cassie Dye, the school’s attendance officer and one of many who have organized events.
Mountain View clubs and teams already have raised several thousands dollars through donations and special events.
Doug Werner is a football coach and biology teacher. Katie Werner teaches English and coaches cheerleading.
“The Werners have touched everybody in the school, basically,” said Caitlin McClelland.
She’s involved with the Learn and Serve program, a service-oriented group led by Katie Werner.
Caitlin and fellow senior Kaitlyn Herrmann recently organized a bone marrow drive to help other children like Olivia find matches.
They’ve explained the Werners’ plight to fellow students and local business owners, and to friends, parents and strangers.
“Most people’s reaction,” Caitlin McClelland said, “is they want to help.”
“Any way possible,” chimed in Kaitlyn Herrmann.
Yesterday, students and staff members wore shirts designed in Olivia’s honor. During each lunch shift, two teenagers went to every table in the cafeteria and asked for donations.
Some students made jokes and tried to reach into the bucket for the dollars and dimes. Others patted their shirt and pants pockets and apologized for not having any money.
Still others reached into plaid backpacks and flowered purses for donations.
“I think they [the Werners] have a lot of support from the school,” said Lauren Davis, a junior.
So does Doug Werner.
He’s a defensive coordinator who works with linebackers, but he got tears in his eyes when he talked about how others have helped his little girl.
“It shows that people care,” he said. “The Wildcat family has been very generous, and we’re very, very grateful.”
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
MOUNTAIN VIEW HIGH SCHOOL GROUPS HAVE PLANNED VARIOUS EVENTS TO ASSIST THE FAMILY. OLIVIA T-SHIRTS were designed by Steve Schwartz, husband of teacher Helen Schwartz. The white shirts have a burgundy heart on the front and the words, “Olivia’s Angels.” On the back is a little cheerleader wearing Mountain View colors with the name “Olivia” under it.
The Schwartzes donated 100 shirts. The Spanish Honor Society sold 200 more, for $10 each.
“OLIVIA DAY” was yesterday. Students and staff wore their shirts, and some had dinner at Foster’s Grille on U.S. 17, where 20 percent of proceeds went to the family. EACH FRIDAY, teacher George Hartman, who owns a coffee store, brings in 5 gallons of speciality brew for teachers, who donate per cup. HOLIDAY DINNERS and presents for Olivia will be provided by the National Honor Society. ABOUT 100 PEOPLE, including staff from North Stafford High School where the Werners previously taught, signed up as bone marrow donors during a drive at Mountain View. ABOUT 60 PINTS of blood were collected during a drive. Olivia may need transfusions, and the blood donations will offset the amount she’s charged. AN ACCOUNT has been set up in Olivia’s name, in care of Doug Werner, at BB&T, 760 Warrenton Road, Fredericksburg, Va. 22406.