VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A Virginia Beach teen diagnosed with a rare and deadly disease beat the odds Wednesday when he graduated from Salem High School.
“This is his big milestone,” said Marlo Dean, Dante Herrera’s mother. “There are so many things I had to resolve that would not happen [for him]. He wouldn’t go out and have children and get married or live a life like yours.”
She continued, “We have a lot of love, a lot of fun, and we got to graduate!”
Dante was diagnosed with Batten Disease in 2013 by his former pediatrician, Governor Ralph Northam. The rare and deadly disease attacks the nervous system, and has impaired Dante’s ability to walk, talk and hear.
There is no cure, and those diagnosed with the condition usually live until their late teens or early 20s. Dante celebrated his 19th birthday in April.
News 3 began sharing Dante’s journey in 2015 when Noah Coughlan dedicated a cross-country run to rare disease awareness and highlighted Dante’s fight during the Virginia portion of his run.
Northam declared June Batten Disease Awareness Month in Virginia to honor Dante.
You can learn more about Dante’s journey and donate to help cover his mounting medical bills here.