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By Daniel J. Vance


  In writing the '70s hit song "Helpless," rock musician Neil Young described the scenic beauty of the "north Ontario" Canadian town of Omemee. Young, a native, contracted polio there in 1951 at age 6.

  Today, another Omemee native with a disability, Kathryn Peeters, 11, is anything but "helpless." She has plenty of faithful friends and family to help her through.

  "My daughter is legally blind and has a massive craniopharyngioma, a brain tumor," said mother Elizabeth Peeters. "She was diagnosed in 1997. After eight hours of surgery, she spent more than three months in a Toronto hospital. As for side effects, a stroke made her legally blind, and she came home using a wheelchair, unable at first to sit without help or stand."

  Elizabeth said Kathryn later had five additional tumors and another surgery.

  "Her sister Courtney, 13, and brother Graham, 8, have taken this remarkably well," said Elizabeth. "Throughout this journey they have adjusted to what has been thrown at them. We were told that parents often have behavioral problems with their other children, but ours have become more compassionate. Courtney's goal is to become a pediatric neurosurgeon." Kathryn also has her farmer father, and two "amazing" school friends who've known her for years.

  "For medical care, Kathryn visits Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children," said Elizabeth. "We make the 278 kilometer [round trip] at least once every two weeks. I used to average a thousand kilometers of driving weekly."

  Though legally blind, Kathryn does see well enough to paint. "A watercolor she submitted was chosen to help raise money for Brain Child, a Canadian organization for children with brain tumors," said Elizabeth. "It was a great accomplishment for an 11 year old. From that, people began asking if they could buy a limited edition print of it, so we had some made." Money raised helps pay Kathryn's medical expenses.

  Her print is of a vivid bed of pastel petunias. "We didn't expect interest in (Kathryn's) print to take off the way it did," said Elizabeth. "People the world over are interested. We've sold one print to a person in the Netherlands. Other interest has come from New Zealand, and all over Canada and the States."

  Kathryn doesn't have a website. To view her print you must email her mom at cowsandcranio@sympatico.ca. She'll send you a file for viewing. The print is absolutely gorgeous, like Kathryn.

  For more, see www.danieljvance.com