Hilliard Northwest News

Hilliard family to appear on 'The American Bible Challenge'

By

When Taylor Geary was a preschooler, she loved to sing.

She knew every word to Jesus Loves Me and could perform it in perfect pitch.

She also knew a number of other Sunday-school songs and could sing along with Barney or Shania Twain.

When the Hilliard girl, now 17, lost her ability to talk, she kept on singing -- until she was silenced altogether by a degenerative neurological disorder called mucopolysaccharidoses.

In an effort to speak on her behalf, her mother, stepfather and uncle will appear on The American Bible Challenge on Game Show Network. Playing as Team Lift Your Voice, the trio is competing to raise money for the National MPS Society, which funds research on MPS and related diseases.

"Taylor is a blessing. She's a blessing in our life," said the teen's mother, Rachel Wojnarowski. Because of her, "we've had so many opportunities to share God's love with other people and encourage other people.

"We want God to use her story to increase the faith of others, and he's doing that."

Wojnarowski; her husband, Matt; and their brother-in-law, David Faile, are among 18 teams competing on this season's Bible-trivia show, which debuted last week. They auditioned in Cleveland in September and visited Los Angeles in November for the taping of the episode that will air June 19.

Competitors on each segment win $2,500, $5,000 or $20,000 for the charities they choose. Winners advance, and three teams eventually compete in a finale for $100,000.

Other teams representing Ohio are Bible Belts from Otway in Scioto County, competing for Kicks For Jesus; Devoted Divas from Akron in Summit County, competing for Unity in the Community; and Heartland Guards from Buda, Ill., with students at Cedarville University in Greene County competing for Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Now a student at Heritage Middle School, Taylor was 4 when her parents heard her diagnosis. They had been given a list of 12 possibilities; when her mother researched each one online, she knew from her daughter's symptoms that she had MPS. Life expectancy was 10 to 15 years.

People with the genetic disorder are unable to produce certain enzymes, leading to progressive cell damage throughout the body.

In Taylor's case, nerve damage has caused a loss of learned skills, her mother said. Her comprehension level is equal to that of an infant, and she must be fed, changed, showered and monitored while she sleeps.

Mrs. Wojnarowski remained hopeful at first, but her husband, a nurse practitioner at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, struggled.

They've asked God why and still find it difficult to watch the girl who used to dance and sing become an infant in a 17-year-old body.

But their initial sadness has largely turned to action. The couple has held fundraisers for the National MPS Society, participated in support groups with other families affected by the disease and worked to create awareness.

Team Lift Your Voice couldn't share details about whether or what they won on The American Bible Challenge, but they did talk a bit about host Jeff Foxworthy and their Los Angeles experience.

Foxworthy, Faile said, is "authentic, down to earth ... like the guy next door."

The episode took six hours to tape, instead of the two predicted, due to factors that included technical difficulties keeping buzzers from working.

A crew visited the Wojnarowski home to record Taylor's story, with bright lights and multiple cameras (including in the sink, microwave and refrigerator).

The trio -- all having been raised in Christian homes -- knew the Bible well.

Matt Wojnarowski's father was a Baptist preacher, and he has read through the Scriptures multiple times, he said.

Faile is a pastor, following in the footsteps of his father, and the Bible has been a "second language," he said. He serves at the Patterson Park Church nondenominational Christian congregation in Beavercreek in Greene County and is married to Matt Wojnarowski's sister, Mary Beth.

Faile calls himself "blessed" to be one of Taylor's caretakers because the teen and her family help those around them remember to cherish each day.

Rachel Wojnarowski, an inspirational blogger, writer and speaker, said Taylor was created with the same purpose as any other human being: to glorify God. While her illness may be difficult to understand, she said, she has the faith to believe it will all be clear in eternity.

"I don't know where we would be without God," she said. "Our faith is the rock we rest on.

"Without God in our lives, I don't know how we'd be able to face all the things that we are."

Comments