Staff Photographer: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Nathaniel Pauleon, 10, shares an affectionate moment with his sister Olivia Pauleon, 6, at their home in Rockdale County. The Rockdale Christian Youth Sports organization, for which Nathaniel plays softball, is hosting an adult softball tournament at Johnson Park on July 7 to benefit Olivia, who is battling liver cancer.
From her bedroom window, Olivia Pauleon enjoys gazing at the trees in her backyard. Because of her disabilities, the 6-year-old can't run and play, but there is one way she could take advantage of the fresh air and sunshine like other children -- in a swing.
One of her favorite things to do as a baby was to swing in a portable baby swing, said her mother Trish Pauleon, but she outgrew it a few years ago.
"It would be very nice for her to have a swing back there so she could have an activity to do," said Mrs. Pauleon, whose family includes daughter Olivia, son Nathaniel Pauleon, 10, and their father Anthony Pauleon.
Mrs. Pauleon said the swing she'd like for her daughter is shaped like a recliner and hangs from chains, like other swings. The swings cost close to $2,000, more than the family can afford due to medical bills.
Olivia's disabilities include hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy and for the past two years, she's battled liver cancer with non-stop chemotherapy treatments. She is not a candidate for a liver transplant because she is disabled, said Mrs. Pauleon.
Now, thanks to the members of the Rockdale Christian Youth Sports organization, based at Bethel Christian Church in Rockdale, Olivia just might get an opportunity to experience the joy of swinging in her yard.
RCYS is sponsoring the Olivia Pauleon Softball Tournament on July 7 at Johnson Park in Rockdale County. The tournament is open to the public and costs $150 to register a team. A company can also pay $50 to advertise its name on the back of team T-shirts and $100 provides a business with a listing on both T-shirts and a banner.
RCYS contributed $500 to pay for the field at Johnson Park.
So far, four co-ed teams and two men's teams have signed up, and RCYS is hoping for more participation. The deadline for registration for the Olivia Pauleon Softball Tournament is June 30.
A member of Philadelphia United Methodist Church in Rockdale, Katie Schrock is a lead organizer for the tournament.
"The church that we go to is all about community involvement and to spread God's love in the community," said Schrock. "The (Pauleon) family is so sweet and it hit home because Olivia's dad plays on our (church) softball team."
Schrock said the strong bond of the Pauleon family inspired her to help present the tournament.
"The love Trish, Anthony and Nate have for Olivia is amazing and you can feel it pouring from them," said Schrock. "She is such a sweet little girl."
Schrock called the tournament a "win-win situation" for the Pauleons and the softball players.
"It's going to be lots of fun and a full day of softball," she said.
Mrs. Pauleon said she appreciates the fundraising effort. She also wants to stress to the public the importance of donating blood. Olivia has benefited from regular blood transfusions required because of the chemotherapy.
Currently, the family is trying an experimental treatment in which chemotherapy is injected directly into the liver.
"She is a fighter, I'll tell you. She is a tough girl," Mrs. Pauleon said of her daughter. "We're praying and hoping for the best."
To register for the Olivia Pauleon Softball Tournament, call Katie Schrock at 770-596-1878 or email her at email@example.com. Donations may be made to the Olivia Pauleon Fund at Fidelity Bank.