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Mia's Paralympic Dream - Annual Report 2018

Mia's Paralympic Dream

From Eye Diagnosis to The Paralympics

Mia Zutter had a very happy, active childhood growing up in Sun Prairie. Her favorite sport was figure skating. But in late elementary school and early middle school she noticed problems with her vision.

The Zutters met Dr. Dave Gamm, UW Health pediatric ophthalmologist in Madison, the summer before Mia started seventh grade. He diagnosed her as having a genetic eye disorder called Stargardt retinal dystrophy. Mia’s condition progressed and she eventually lost her central vision.

Mia describes her vision as a cloudy, foggy, blurred central image. She states that nothing is black and she can see out of the side, but not straight ahead. She cannot drive and it takes her longer to read something, but she has adapted.

Just three and a half years ago, Mia tried her hand at skiing based on a family friend’s recommendation. It turned out to be a good decision. She uses a guide for competitive cross-country skiing (Nordic skiing). Races have taken her all over the United States. She found success and a passion.

Mia received news in February that she qualified for the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea based on her World Cup performance in Canmore, Alberta Canada in December.

Just three and a half years ago, Mia tried her hand at skiing based on a family friend’s recommendation. It turned out to be a good decision. She uses a guide for competitive cross-country skiing (Nordic skiing). Races have taken her all over the United States. She found success and a passion.

Mia received news in February that she qualified for the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea based on her World Cup performance in Canmore, Alberta Canada in December.
Zutter had to qualify in races but there was also a lengthy process that took place at UW Health behind the scenes.

Leading the way was Darla Coullard, an ophthalmology technician, who works with Dr. Gamm at UW Health. She handled all the organization of records and getting the right documents to the right people at the Paralympics.

“There was an incredible amount of testing and paperwork that needed to be completed to prove she has a blinding disorder. The Olympic committees take it very seriously, as they should, so we had to prove Mia had Stargardt disease and she fit into a category to qualify as a Paralympic athlete.”

Learn more about Mia’s Journey