Blind teen runner`s determination inspires young boy, family - KMSP-TV

Blind teen runner`s determination inspires young boy, family

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A blind high school girl's determination to make the best of her disability has become an inspiration for a 7-year-old boy and his family.

SEE: Running to win: High School athlete won't let blindness stop her

You may remember Jhaliyah Anderson, the suburban girl who runs track holding the hand of a teammate. When FOX 32 News aired the story in May, it touched the heart of a mom in Beverly whose son also lost his eyesight at a very young age.

Today, the two families met for the very first time and they've now gained something they never planned: a kindred connection that they expect will last a long time.

Sonya Anderson opened her home along with her heart to Mary Beth Schied, because they share the challenge that cancer has brought to their families and their children: 16-year-old Jhaliyah and 7-year-old Jake.

After seeing Jhaliyah's story of running track for her high school, Mary Beth reached out to Jhaliyah's school and got Sonya's number.

A few weeks later, they talked on the phone.

"I asked her a bunch of questions you know about Jhaliyah's childhood, and the things that she did and how they felt and how I felt and she felt the same way so it was just nice to meet somebody that is going through the same things that I am," Schied recalls of their conversation.

Jake, who just finished first grade, was diagnosed with retinal cancer when he was 18 months old. His left eye was removed six months later to prevent the aggressive cancer from spreading.

He has very limited vision in his right eye.

Now, he has made a new friend in Jhaliyah, who already knows she wants to be a social worker for people with disabilities.

"When I told her someone's reached out to us and they would like to speak with you, she was like ‘Oh my God, this is awesome, I would love to speak with the child.' She thinks like she can help the world," Sonya laughs.

Today, Jake and Jhaliyah shared a few stories. She told him about camp and he told her about going to a Blackhawks game. She likes to run and he likes to swim and roller blade.

"My mom told me the only limitations that you have are the ones that you set for yourself," Jhaliyah says.

For these two families the bond of friendship is just beginning.

"I'm very interested to see where Jhaliyah's gonna go in high school and college, the thought of her just wanting to help other children it's amazing," says Schied.

Mary Beth calls Sonya and Jhaliyah her lifeline.

"I can't see ever having a problem talking to her about something," Schied explains. "It gives me hope that I'll get over a hump, when that time comes."

Mary Beth says her three other children struggle with Jake's blindness, and one of the things she hopes will come of this meeting with Jhaliyah is that they can see there is hope for Jake to succeed and make the most of life.

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