Eight-year-old Madison Dobson of Waveland has dreams of becoming an Olympic gymnast.
Prior to the beginning of this year, she was well on her way to attaining that goal.
However, in February, Madison started losing mobility in her limbs and thus began the Dobson family's journey to find an explanation for their daughter's sudden ailment.
Madison is the daughter of Mindy and Joe. She is one of seven children and the family is expecting another child this year.
For the past two years, off and on, Mindy said Madison often suffered from mono, strep throat, and fevers.
In January, Madison came down with mono again, but didn't get any better, Mindy said.
After a gymnastics competition, Madison fell ill and was confined to her bed for about three weeks with a fever.
"We thought it was just the stress," Mindy said.
In February, Madison started losing mobility of her limbs.
In May, Mindy said, Madison became severely ill and lost feeling in both of her legs.
The family has to have a wheelchair available at all times, she added.
"We started seeking out specialists who just kept saying it was viral," Mindy said.
The family took Madison to several doctors.
"It's nerve-wracking because the symptoms changed weekly," Mindy said.
The Dobsons were also told that Madison might have juvenile arthritis.
But a rheumatologist ultimately told the family what Madison suffered from, Stage One Full Body Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
"The prognosis isn't good," Mindy said. "There's no cure. It can continue to create paralysis."
Mindy said that the disorder creates dysfunction in the nervous system and internal organs. CRPS also causes nausea, dizziness, and vertigo.
Mindy said that Madison's speech has also been affected.
"We home school and she's always been a great student," Mindy said. "But now she can only handle about 20 to 30 minutes at a time."
During her research, Mindy said, she discovered that CRPS is rare in children under 10.
She said that it's also referred to as "burning limb disease," and is further characterized by neuropathy, pain, shooting nerve pain, and a racing heart. In addition to bouts of paralysis, Madison is also at risk of stroke.
After Madison was first diagnosed, Mindy said the only option given at the time was treatment for the symptoms, which was pain management medicines and physical therapy.
Mindy said she and her husband began to believe that conventional medicine wasn't the route they wanted to take for their daughter.
She reached out through social media and not only found other families dealing with CRPS, but also found a doctor in Illinois who takes a more homeopathic approach.
The Dobsons took Madison to see Dr. Chris Holze of the Holze Wellness Clinic in Elgin, Illinois.
Mindy said Dr. Holze is focused on why Madison's "body is doing this," and "finding the source."
"That's what we wanted more than to just treat the symptoms," Mindy said.
Madison saw Dr. Holze for four days. During her visit, the family learned that there are a lot of "heavy metals" in Madison's system and she has an aluminum allergy.
Madison's treatment involved cold laser system, a "light therapy to reset the nervous system," Mindy said. The doctor also performed a foot detox.
"Her body is not filtering toxins like it should," Mindy said.
Since her first trip to Chicago, Madison's pain has diminished slightly and she has experienced fewer instances of paralysis.
However, she is not in remission yet and health insurance doesn't cover alternative treatments, Mindy said.
"We are hoping for remission by the end of the year," she said.
At the end of June, Madison and Joe returned to Illinois for another round of treatment.
"We want to get ahead of the curve, before it gets too far," Mindy said.
She said that Madison misses participating in gymnastics with her team.
"It was her passion," Mindy said. "She has her moments of anger and sometimes takes it out on us. She also writes journal entries. She just wants to be a normal kid and do what kids do."
Madison said she wants to go back to gymnastics and "be a regular kid."
In an effort to offset medical expenses, the family established a GoFundMe and is hosting Waveland's first Taco Fest on July 27 from 3 to 8 p.m. on Coleman Avenue.
The event includes a taco cookoff competition with unlimited taco testing; a silent auction; live music; children's events; craft vendors; local candidate introductions; and a dance and limbo competition.
The price of an adult ticket is $25 and $10 for children, which includes unlimited taco tasting. Tickets are $20 if purchased prior to the event.
For more information, visit wavelandtacofest.com or contact event coordinators Mindy at 228-216-4205, Joe at 228-493-3586, or Melissa Richardson at 228-304-1499.