Melbourne girl's inspiring story grabs attention of her favorite softball player

10-year-old with life-threatening diseases recognized for love of softball

By Carolina Cardona - Reporter

MELBOURNE, Fla. - A young girl in Melbourne is facing some tough medical challenges.

At just 10 years old, she's having to deal with a lifelong diagnosis that affects her muscles and skin, but her resilience hasn't stopped her from enjoying her favorite sport -- softball.

"I like to think of myself as normal and like regular kids, and sometimes I just like to think that I don't have these diseases," Brookelynn Dolin said. 

It hasn't been an easy journey for Dolin, as life has thrown her some pretty tough curveballs.

"Brookelynn was diagnosed at age 5 in 2014 with juvenile dermatomysitis, which is an autoimmune disease that attacks your skin and your muscles," Ashley Dolin said about her daughter's first diagnosis. 

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Shortly after that diagnosis, doctors discovered another medical condition: scleroderma, a disease that impacts the body through the hardening of the skin.

"And then after that, she was diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid and just recently this year, autoimmune Sjogren's syndrome, where it affects your mucus membrane, saliva," Dolin said. 

Despite those hardships, Dolin's resilience is untouchable and her love for softball is unstoppable.

"There are days where she pushes herself to the extreme and we'll follow up with those bad days, but she will never tell you that she's in pain or she's tired. She wants to play," Dolin's mother said.

"It's fun. It keeps me exercising," the fourth-grader said about her passion.

"Brookelynn, from day one, pretty much has been an inspiration to everyone that I've seen her come in contact with. She first started off here at the Upper Deck doing a summer camp, a softball camp, and immediately was one of the favorite athletes of all the other athletes there," said Jason Stidham, the owner of the Upper Deck Sports facility where Dolin practices in a batting cage.

It's that fighting spirit that's been noted by professional softball player Alex Powers, of the USSSA Pride softball team. Powers, a Melbourne native and Dolin's favorite player, joined Dolin during a training session.

"I do follow her on social media and all of this stuff. The treatments and everything that she endures on a weekly basis, definitely admirable in terms of her perseverance to continue playing and to be her healthiest, best self to compete. Not everybody is as fortunate and has an easy road. It just speaks to her testament and her love of the game, of sports, of life and just really enjoying it," Powers said.

Their meeting was made possible by the Kids Wish Network, a nonprofit organization that helps improve the quality of life for kids with life-threatening conditions and makes their dreams come true.

After the session, Powers gave Dolin one of her jerseys and tickets so she could go to every USSSA Pride softball home game.   

Dolin's mom said her daughter hopes to become a doctor one day so she can find a cure for her diseases.

"I hope that one day she's feeling so much better that she doesn't have to live in pain everyday. I hope that one day she becomes the person she wants to be and she continues like this," her mother said.

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