OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Second graders at St. Alphonsus Catholic School are learning some new tunes. But there's a voice missing in the chorus. Their classmate, Sophia Mohler, has been in the hospital since September after she was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer.
"She's a really sweet girl and my friend," second grader Camille Seghers said.
"We met before in first grade, and we were friends for a long time," second grader Joshua Grumme said. "I really miss her very much. I want her to get really better, really better."
Every morning, the students and staff pray for Sophia. They're also trying to help the family pay for medical costs not covered by insurance and related expenses. You see, the Mohlers had to close their famous Tato Nut shop in downtown Ocean Springs so they can be with Sophia in Texas. She is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments in Texas.
The school plans to take part in a Benefit Walk across the Ocean Springs/Biloxi Bridge this Saturday, October 17th. It's being organized by the Krewe of Barry.
"It was devastating to the community to know this family who we've gone to Tato Nut every Saturday and enjoyed their doughnuts and enjoyed their family's business for years. To see a member of our community that's going through this, we just want to show our support any way we can," said Mike Davis, one of co-organizers of the walk.
St. Alphonsus is selling specially-designed T-shirts, just for the walk. But that's not all.
"We're doing the tag sale, or the garage sale at the Yacht Club that day, and we'll also have a bake sale going on," Principal Dr. Pamala Rogers said. "And there's going to be some sort of bouncy thing out there, 'Bounce for Bucks' we're calling it."
"I'm buying a lot of T-shirts for her, and my mom and my dad and me are going to wear them and we plan to do everything we can for her," second grader Veronica Landsford said.
So much love and support for a seven-year-old girl whose friends at St. Alphonsus are hoping she'll return to school soon, so they can all raise her voices in praise.
The Benefit Walk for Sophia is this Saturday from 7am until noon. Tents will be set up at the foot of both sides of the Ocean Springs/Biloxi Bridge. All donations will go to the Sophia Mohler Medical Benefit Account.
St. Alphonsus will have "Silly Shoe Day" this Thursday, in which students can donate money in order to wear funny shoes. The school also donated proceeds from recent sales at its "Saints Shop" to buy Sophia an iPod, so she can listen to music during her treatment sessions.
Donna's Visual and Performing Arts Center in Ocean Springs is having a contest to see which dancers can raise the most money. Sophia took dance lessons there. The dance teams also plan to wear their costumes and walk for Sophia on Saturday.