Dakota, 9, Marine Biologist
"For several weeks, Dakota complained about her vision being blurry when she was in class. After trips to the pediatrician, ophthalmologist, and an MRI at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Dakota was diagnosed with juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma (JPA), a rare childhood brain tumor. Her tumor is in both parts of the thalamus, which has a main function in the body to relay motor and sensory signals to the cerebral cortex. For Dakota specifically, the tumor was sitting on her optic nerve. Dakota began chemotherapy treatments on April 26, 2019. As a chronic illness, Dakota's brain tumor will need to be monitored every three months moving forward, making sure it doesn't grow. The outgoing, spunky little girl who aspires to be a marine biologist one day, was excited to start fourth grade this August. She currently has a 100 in her science class and loves watching Animal Planet."