Kiara's journey started in 2014, at the age of 7, when she started to complain of back spasms. She was diagnosed with scoliosis. In 2016, the progression of her scoliosis prompted additional MRI testing which revealed a low grade (non aggressive) pylocytic astrocytoma tumor inside her spinal cord running through the majority of her thoracic vertebrae. After a year of monitoring, growing cysts around her tumor began compressing her spinal cord, impacting Kiara's ability to walk and even wiggle her toes, she underwent emergency surgery to drain the cysts. Wanting to avoid any irreversible damage, she quickly began chemotherapy in January, 2018.
Over the next year, Kiara maintained an amazingly positive attitude while undergoing chemotherapy and rigorous PT/OT to regain strength and balance in her lower limbs and to minimize the progression of her scoliosis. She and her parents, Lisa and Todd, celebrated major milestone victories, including wiggling her toes, re-learning to walk with a walker, then crutches, then by herself(!), going back to school, and riding a bike!
Having completed the majority of her treatment in Connecticut, away from her extended family who live in Wisconsin, Kiara and her family were happy to find the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. At Camp, Kiara felt like a regular kid and loved "being able to do all sorts of stuff" like horseback riding, archery, singing, and dancing. Kiara commemorates her time at Camp through her ice cream cone socks - one of the favorite camp songs was the Ice Cream and Cake song, and hearing it reminds Kiara of the amazing memories and people she's met through Hole in the Wall Gang.
As of August, 2020, Kiara is happily recovering from spinal fusion back surgery. After wearing a back brace for 22 hours a day for the past four years, she's excited to have her scoliosis corrected and be living brace free.