Talking to Sarah Dalton for the first time barely gives you a glimpse into the hardships she’s overcome — she’s one of the most cheerful people you will encounter. Within a week of being born, she was diagnosed with CHARGE Syndrome, a rare condition that affects almost all of her senses and organs, including her heart and brain. She used to visit the hospital at least 20 times a year until she was 7, and she’s had 32 surgeries so far. Till she was 8, she was fed through a tube. She uses a glass eye and has limited vision in her right eye. Living with CHARGE Syndrome forces Sarah to make an active effort to work on tasks many of us take for granted. She has to think about her balance, sitting, seeing, hearing, swallowing, and even breathing.
Not one to let that stop her from living in the fullest sense of the word, Sarah, now 24, has some cool workarounds that have helped her all these years. She sets an alarm on her phone to remind herself to swallow every few seconds, and has a soft diet that helps her swallow easily – ham and cheese sandwiches top the list. Though she cannot experience taste, it hardly affects her tremendous love for cheese! She also exercises regularly to help with motor functioning and fitness.
Growing up with different needs meant that she’s often had to deal with being singled out. When she was younger, her friends in school would look out for
At Special Olympics New Zealand, Sarah is an athlete leader; one among the many feathers in her hat. She has been an equestrian athlete for a while now, having won accolades for the sport on a national level. The one that she thinks is pretty awesome is the trophy she won at the Bartley’s Riding Academy where she competed against able-
With an incredible zest for new experiences and navigating life’s choppy waters with utmost grit, Sarah brings a never-say-never attitude to the table very few can fathom, and everyone aspires to. She recently starred in an episode of Power Rangers Dino Fury on Nickelodeon, and one can only imagine what lies ahead. There is nothing that can stop her today. As she puts it, “at horse riding, I legit get back on the horse, but in life in general, I always try to get back on the horse; climb that mountain again.”
“I guess I’m really tough.”
We couldn’t agree more.