Terminally ill teen will graduate high school, beating incredible odds

Graduating high school was a milestone doctors didn’t think was possible for Olivia Hauke.

“She got this far and now she’s not able to have the graduation she was expecting,” her mother, Patricia Baffaro, said.

Olivia, 17, has a neurodevelopmental disorder, known as Deaf1. She’s regressing and losing her muscle memory.

“To get up in the morning and not know what day it is, it’s a struggle every day,” Baffaro said.

Baffaro noticed something was wrong when Olivia was around the 3rd or 4th grade. They started genetic testing, but it took years to find the diagnosis.

“She could swim one day, and then she was losing her skills,” Baffaro said. “She was very active. Stuff she learned she forgot.”

While doctors didn’t think it would be possible for Olivia to still be in school, she made it through with specialized classes is now graduating from Pilgrim High School.

After overcoming such big obstacles, her mother is heartbroken she can’t get the graduation and prom she deserves.

“Each day she’s been like Mom I’m going to the prom,” Baffaro said. “I said yes, Olivia you’re going to the prom. Every day.

Pilgrim High School is having a small graduation with only ten students at a time and limited family members.

Olivia did get to experience some other high school milestones such as Winter Ball and her unified volleyball team won a state championship.

Baffaro says doctors have told her that Olivia is going to get worse, but she says her daughter is one fighter who isn’t giving up.

“She’s very determined she’s not going to give up. She had seizures in school and the very next day she was ready to go back.

Baffaro said after graduation, Olivia hopes to help with research at a program at Butler Hospital focused on memory loss.

 

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