Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

HOPE FUND; Diseases Can't Break Her Spirit Girl, 13, Loves the Rough and Tumble, but Her Body Can't Take It

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

HOPE FUND; Diseases Can't Break Her Spirit Girl, 13, Loves the Rough and Tumble, but Her Body Can't Take It

Article excerpt

Byline: Anthony Richards and Scott Kunath

On Monday nights, there's only one place 13-year-old Dawn Boles wants to be: in front of her TV, waiting to watch WWE Monday Night Raw.

Dawn loves wrestling so much that whenever she can, she attends events put on by Coastal Championship Wrestling, a regional professional wrestling organization based in Broward County. That's often enough that some wrestlers know her by name and give her a kiss on the cheek before they enter the ring.

But as much as she loves the smash-and-bash action of wrestling, she can only enjoy it from afar. In fact, Dawn has to avoid physical activity altogether because of a pair of diseases that could make even minor injuries deadly.

The first, osteogenesis imperfecta, is a disorder that weakens Dawn's bone structure and forces her to use a wheelchair or a walker to get around. She's broken bones at least 50 times, one femur six times.

"All you had to practically do was pick her up to change her diaper and her leg would break," Dawn's grandmother, Barbara Antill, said.

Dawn wears a brace on her left leg due to a break in September.

The second disorder, Von Willebrand disease, stops her blood from clotting, causing her to bleed excessively and require transfusions if she's cut.

Dawn was born with both diseases - and dealing with them has given her a maturity beyond her years.

"She's the most awesome child I've ever met in my life," Antill said. The grandmother often worries about how others will accept her granddaughter, but Dawn "tells me all the time, they just have to accept me for who I am."

The Jacksonville girl lives with Antill, 62, who was given court-ordered custody when Dawn was 8 months old and the girl's mother was arrested.

Antill also cares for her own 83-year-old mother. Two years ago, because of her caretaking duties, she quit the job she'd held for 26 years.

When Antill first became Dawn's legal guardian, there were three of them in the home. Both Antill and her husband, Robert, worked and between the two were able to meet expenses.

But Robert died three years ago and his absence has left a hole in both their hearts and their finances. …

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