DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) – "Courage, strength, devotion, determination and absolute unwavering love is what I witnessed today when I met The Tolson's today," said Darlington Police Chief Daniel Watson.
The Tolson family visited the Darlington Police station this week, and their daughter Holly left a lasting impression on Chief Watson, Chief Pat Cavanugh and the staff. The meeting was set up by Holly's teacher, and the officers showed her their cars and gadgets. The fire department did the same.
While Holly's life began just like most newborns, her parents soon noticed she was unable to straighten out her legs or put any weight on them, according to the Facebook page Hope for Holly. After months of therapy and no improvements, test results from a neurologist confirmed Holly was diagnosed with SMA Type I, a severe form of the terminal, genetically-inherited motor neuron disease that affects the muscles used to breathe, crawl, walk, hold up one's head and swallow.
Holly is beating the odds. SMA Type I is the number one genetic killer of children under 2, according to the Facebook page, and the family knew she might not live to see her second birthday. She's now 8 years old.
"Accompanied by her home school teacher Tara, Holly came to our station bright eyed and clearly interested," Chief Watson said in a Facebook post. "How much can the expression on a child's face tell you about what a child thinks or feels? Much more than I could ever put into words. Eyes squinting just a bit, the corners of her mouth turning up in an almost mischievous grin to me spoke volumes. She listened intently and dare I say enjoyed it a lot."
The police department had a few small gifts for Holly, and even made her an honorary Darlington Police ID card.
"After one last picture as we all gathered around her mother lifted her hand for her and with tremendous effort she gave us a slight wave," Chief Watson said. "God blessed us with the visit from this child today and as we all walked away to return to our work the wind must have picked up causing our eyes to water just a bit. I'm sure it was only the dust in the wind. We love you Holly and thank you for your visit you've obviously stolen all of our hearts."
The Hope for Holly page hopes to raise awareness of SMA, which affects 1 in 6,000 children, and for which there is no cure. The first-ever FDA-approved treatment was approved in December 2016.