Those who ultimately win have no less detractors than the ones who lose; they simply refuse to acknowledge them. 

Those are words that Scott McDermitt’s daughter, Mio, lives by every day as she fights through the hardships of a genetic disease.

Their story begins when Mio was just three months old. 

“She was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 1,” Scott said. “Which a few years ago was considered a terminal illness. In fact, in Norway, it still is due to medicine not being as advanced as it is in America.”

That was the most difficult and trying moment of the entire experience for Scott – being told that his daughter would probably never walk and would be a miracle from God if she would be able to use her hands or stand.

“At the moment my entire world shattered, and I broke down,” Scott recalled. “She was born in Japan, and being stationed in Norway, so we thought that an international travel trip would be the hardest part of our year, but then we got hit with that news and for me everything was in free fall.”

Scott (an active duty member) and his wife, Yuriko, were obviously heartbroken hearing their first born had a rare genetic disease, but luckily they were quickly moved back to the States and were able to get Mio into treatments with a drug called Spinrazza.

Flash forward to now, just four months after the initial diagnosis and loading doses of Spinrazza, Mio has already exceeded the expectations of the doctors in Norway. 

“She is constantly improving, getting stronger, and defying the odds that were set in front of her,” Scott said with a smile. “While we don’t know what her capabilities will fully be, she has a drive already to prove everyone wrong, and it’s infectious to both my wife and I. Seeing her succeed pushes us to be just a little bit better every day and embrace each other in the darkest days.”

With a language barrier in Norway and at home (Scott’s primary language is English and his wife’s is Japanese), they leaned on family for support and guidance. 

“My wife was an absolute rock,” Scott said with appreciation. “Never breaking and staying the strongest in the entire family and keep us all afloat while so much was in flux. During the last three months we were relocated back to America for our daughter, and through this she has kept all of us level, and with her fierce determination has kept us all strong.”

Scott was introduced to APEMAN a few years ago and credits APEMAN for being an inspiration through the struggles. 

“It’s due to the fact that all your shirts mean something and have helped both my wife and I through these hardships especially in the last year,” Scott said. “My favorite phrase is STRONG IN THE STORM because Mio has done exactly that.”

His advice for others going through a dark time in life is simple: love and patience. He also said to never be afraid to lean on others for help; they care about you and want to help. 

“My family dropped everything and flew from Ohio to Norway the next day because I called and told them I needed help,” Scott said. “They did it without any hesitation. I’d also say to keep communication open with your significant other because something like this puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your marriage. 

“We all have dark times, but there is always a tomorrow and make it your mission to just be a little bit better.”