Mark Williams is the father of eight-year old Chloe Williams, a third-grader at Grassy Lake Elementary with an ependymoma brain tumor.
Chloe was diagnosed on December 22, 2009, and to-date has undergone four brain surgeries, three years of chemotherapy, and 60 days of radiation. These are the three tactics used to treat the disease.
Naturally, surgery is the most effective, however, "you can only have so many surgeries" before it becomes too much.
Much to Mark's delight, the doctors at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children "have treated her as a little girl, not a patient." Chloe is now involved in a clinical trial at the hospital following a clinical trial at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.
As a Navy and Operation Desert Storm veteran, Mark's "immediate response was to fight and to educate myself. I read everything I could." As her father, "I wanted to fix it, but I felt helpless."
Thankfully for Mark and his family, they have "met a whole circle of friends" who have children with pediatric cancer and they "support each other. I have been humbled by all the people who have come to help us." One of those people is Kalena Meyers.
Kalena Meyers, Dean of Institutional Advancement at Montverde Academy, reached out to the Williams two weeks ago after Kalena became aware of Chloe's situation.
The family and Kalena got more acquainted with each other and since then she "has moved mountains. We'll definitely have a friend for life," added Williams.
She has helped with the ever-growing expensive medical bills as well as organized Chloe's Christmas Party fundraiser on December 17 from 5:30 — 8:30pm at Beef O'Brady's in Clermont.
Twenty percent of sales will go to the Williams family's expenses related to Chloe's illness. There will also be pictures with Santa from 6-7pm.
The donations will be especially valued because of the Williams's situation. Mark was laid off earlier this year and his wife, Michelle, had to leave nursing school to take care of Chloe.
It has been extremely challenging for Chloe and the Williams. Mark nonetheless asserts his gratefulness for all the assistance received with deep sincerity: "Lake County has the most compassionate people. I've lived around the world and no one has opened their arms like the people we've met here. Everyone has pulled us in."