School helps ailing toddler

School helps ailing toddler
May 27, 2009 12:36 am

By CATHY DYSON

Mountain View High School has used its connections, near and far, to pull together a fundraising event that includes autographed items from NASCAR driver Jeff Burton and tennis champion Venus Williams.

The Stafford school plans a gift-card bingo at 7 p.m. Friday to raise money for Olivia Werner and her family. Included in the bingo, which costs $10 per person, are several raffle items from Burton, including gloves he wore during a race, said Cassie Dye, the school’s attendance officer.

“Jeff Burton has sent us a ton of stuff,” she said.

There’s also a signed shirt from Williams and baseball items from John Maine, a Stafford County native and pitcher for the New York Mets.

The raffles and bingo will benefit the medical fund of Olivia Werner, the 17-month-old daughter of Mountain View teachers Doug and Katie Werner. Olivia has severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome, a disease which takes away her ability to fight off bacteria and infections.

Olivia and her mother moved to Durham, N.C., last fall so she could be treated by doctors at Duke University Medical Center. Olivia needed a bone-marrow transplant, and her mother was a match.

The family found out last month that the transplant didn’t work. Doctors have recommended a booster bone marrow transplant, scheduled for June 16, using her father’s stem cells.

The procedure will begin another six-month wait for the Werners, as it takes that long to see if her immune system responds. During that time, Olivia and her mother will stay in isolation in North Carolina to avoid possible infection.

Katie Werner worked a few weeks when the school year started and has been on leave ever since. She’s gotten paid regularly, Dye said, because co-workers donated their sick time to her account.

The Mountain View family also has scheduled various events and fund-raisers to help the Werners throughout the year. Teachers and staff members were devastated to learn that Olivia needs another transplant.

“It just breaks your heart,” Dye said. “But we’re all feeling optimistic that this one will take. Olivia is a tough little cookie.”

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
Email: cdyson@freelancestar.com

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