For a three Ocean Springs area families — each forever bound by the loss of a child to a rare and deadly brain tumor — the inaugural DIPG Warrior Walk is more than just a fundraiser.
It’s a chance to honor and remember children: Sophia Mohler, 8; Jaxon Schoenberger, 6; and Sophia Ann Myers, 7.
Each died over a span of eight years of the inoperable brain cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, as featured in the Sun Herald investigate report, “Diagnosis: Death.”
Each of the families and others have set up individual teams for the walk.
There is iheartSophia for Sophia Mohler, daughter of David and Theresa Mohler; Team Jaxon, for Jaxon Schoenberger, the son of Tyler and Salena Schoenberger; and Team SoSo Strong, for Sophia Myers, the daughter of Josh and Angel Myers.
Another team, Team Reed, is in honor of Reed Elise Magee, the 5-year-old daughter of Derek and Lavern Magee, of Beaumont, Texas.
Other teams include Meghan’s Dream team, set up in the name of Meghan Meyers and Gabrielle Spicer.
The Cure Starts Now Foundation, a charity that has raised over $10 million for DIPG research since 2007, is sponsoring the event. More than 250 people have already registered online at a cost of $25 each for adults and children ages 6 and older.
Online registration ends Wednesday, though walk-up registration is available beginning at noon Sunday at Fort Maurepas Park in Ocean Springs. The cost is $25 for adults and children, ages 6 and older.
“For us, this event is so important because in all of our research and experience in the DIPG world in the last eight and half years, this foundation, The Cure Starts Now, has been the most effective and responsible with their fundraising,” Theresa Mohler said. “They bring together the leading experts on the disease from around the world to share information and ideas.”
The Mohlers’ daughter was the first Ocean Springs child to fight DIPG.
“Sophia .. was a happy, healthy 7-year-old until August 2009 when she was diagnosed with ...DIPG,” her parents said. “She loved all animals, dance, and keeping up with her big sister.”
Theresa Mohler said the event is also a chance for them to reunite with a community of supporters and “pay it forward to other families that are currently battling the monster,” Theresa Mohler said.
The support of the community, Tyler Schoenberger said, “shows people haven’t forgotten Jaxon and want to continue to (do) fundraisers in his honor.”
For Josh and Angel Myers, the event comes just five months after their Sophia lost her battle with DIPG.
“I want other parents to know that they should care because this disease is lurking,” Angel Myers said. “It doesn’t discriminate in any way. All of our children were perfectly healthy, normal children when DIPG attacked.
“We have to keep pushing for information, environmental studies and fund cancer research. If everyone gives a little, it adds up quickly. Our kids deserve better than what we were given. Our kids should have a fighting chance.”