BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) - A program at the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities
is helping a Boardman 3-year-old beat the odds of her rare diagnosis.
Even after two major surgeries, among other struggles, nothing is stopping Karina Myers.
This little girl, who has a rare form of spina bifida, was on the playground at Boardman Park Wednesday afternoon. Her mother, Julia, thought that was something her daughter would never be able to do.
"Basically, they gave me the worst case scenario. My daughter would never walk, she'd be in a wheelchair, she'd be mentally impaired. All kinds of doom and gloom, and it was terrifying."
Karina was born with a clubbed foot and part of her spine exposed. She went straight into surgery just hours after coming into the world.
"It was kind of scary. She's hooked up to all these monitors, she's got all this wrapping around her back," Julia said. "I could put my hand through a little hole and say goodbye."
Even though Julia said she was prepared for the worst, she was numb after hearing from doctors.
"They told me she was paralyzed from the waist down, that she had no movement."
During her 11 days in the hospital, Julia noticed Karina wiggling and moving, and she's been beating the odds ever since.
"I just want her to be seen as Karina and not her diagnosis," Julia said.
Karina stood up on her own at 2 years old. Then she used a walker -- but that didn't last long. She ditched it after only six months.
"She's just feisty and sassy and wants to keep up with her brother," Julia said.
Karina still wears braces on her feet and has to use a catheter every two hours, but that doesn't stop her.
"Next thing you know, I'm like, 'Stop, slow down!' And I'm like, 'Oh my god, I never thought I'd say that to my kid,' you know? It was weird."
Karina has been using services from the Early Intervention Program at MCBDD, getting physical therapy, resources and help in all aspects of her life.
"There was just so many things that they helped us find and get involved with that I would have never known," Julia said.
Karina aged out of the program when she turned 3, but now Boardman Schools will work with her family to give her the resources she needs when she heads into kindergarten in just two years.
"I was just so proud of her because ever since she's been a baby, she's always had this desire to go, to move," Julia said. "She was very curious, very adventurous."
Julia said it's that spunk that keeps Karina going every day with a wiggle in her step.
The Early Intervention Program supports families of infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities. For more information about the program or to get your child involved, visit MCBDD's website.