Teen Blinded by Stargardt's Disease Chases Dreams With Guide Dog

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Moving Forward One Step at a Time

The cross country meets are exciting for Stoner, but emotional for her parents, Keith and Lisa.

"There are a lot of things you hope for your kids, and one of them is that they get to see things," said Keith Stoner, father of three girls. "But she probably has the best outlook on life that you can imagine."

Although she still has some peripheral vision, Stoner relies on special aids in the classroom, including an iPad. But despite Stargardt's, Stoner's grades are still up and her race times keep going down -- a trend her teachers and coaches are sure will continue.

"In the beginning, the number one priority was just for her to be safe," said Denise Benson, coach of the Lexington varsity cross country team. "Now we're working on getting her to let her guard down and increase her stride."

Stoner said she loves running because it's relaxing.

"It's one of those things where you don't have to think too hard; you just put one foot in front of the other," she said.

But people who know her say, "That's just Sami."

"She has always had the attitude that somehow everything's going to work out," said Anne Petri, junior varsity coach and Stoner's teacher during her diagnosis. "She just takes it one step, one problem at a time."

Stoner said she plans to keep running and go to college after high school -- with Chloe, of course.

"She's given me a lot more confidence, not only my running but everything," she said.

The trailblazer's message for others faced with limitations: "If you care enough about it, just try to find a way to do it, because I bet there is a way."

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