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Medina County girl with special needs shines on Hollywood modeling trip

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Posted at 6:16 PM, Apr 11, 2022

LODI, Ohio — Meghan Cawley has a smile that beams, and after a recent walk down a Hollywood runway, she now struts with a purpose.

You can add her latest accomplishment to a growing list of things that some doctors never thought would be possible.

"When Meghan was born— before she was born— they told us that she would probably never walk or talk and she would have a very poor quality of life," said her mother, Sarah Cawley. "One thing she's blessed with is a lot of confidence. No shortage of confidence there."

Meghan has multiple disabilities, including congenital hydrocephalus, epilepsy, and severe scoliosis. She's also deaf in one ear.

But the 10-year-old fourth-grade student at Cloverleaf Elementary School in Lodi faces her health challenges with grace and determination.

She enjoys singing, dancing, adaptive skiing and crafts.

But it's modeling that is her latest passion after she participated in a Runway of Dreams Foundations event in Hollywood.

Wearing pink sunglasses, a skirt with yellow smiley faces on it and adaptive footwear, Meghan joyfully walked the runway, spun around and waved.

"It was an amazing experience. It was like breathtaking," she said. "When I walked down the runway, the crowd cheered loud, like really loud."

The moment was precious and meaningful for Sarah Cawley.

"It's a completely surreal experience watching your child just get to absolutely shine because of their disability and not just in spite of it," she said. " It just makes it that much more meaningful to see her achieve something that we never thought was possible and to show other people this is something that people with disabilities can do."

The Runway of Dreams Foundation, founded by Mindy Scheier, the mom of a young adult with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, is a non-profit organization working toward a future of inclusion, acceptance and opportunity in the fashion industry for people with disabilities.

During her runway strut, Meghan represented Zappos and wore shoes that have a special zipper that moves from the top all the way around.

"It also has extra room to support orthotics or ankle braces for kids that might need them to help walk," Sarah Cawley said.

Meghan receives treatment for some of her health conditions at Akron Children's Hospital.

Dr. Ian Rossman, a pediatric neurologist, believes the Hollywood trip gave Meghan a chance to shine.

"I'm so proud of Meghan and her family for embracing this unique opportunity," he said. "Meghan was not just modeling shoes, she was embodying the value of inclusion of children with special needs in all activities that make childhood fun and enriching."

Later this year, the family is planning to meet with doctors in New York for a spine surgery designed to protect her from the possibility of paralysis in the future.

Meghan said that will be "a big surgery" but for now she's still glowing about her big night and thinking about becoming a professional model one day.

"It was really cool," she said.

Sarah Cawley certainly isn't going to doubt Meghan after witnessing everything she has achieved over ten years.

"Meghan was pretty much born to be on the stage so we will just continue to give her every opportunity to shine."