Teen with rare Usher syndrome finds strength in riding horses

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In the six years since she was diagnosed with Usher syndrome, 14-year-old Bella Dunning of Stow has heard all the things she can’t do because of the rare genetic disorder. Born with profound hearing loss and balance problems, she wears tinted glasses to protect her gradually

deteriorating vision, which doctors warn she may lose entirely.

Bella, however, insists on focusing on all the things she can do. With double cochlear implants, she hears and speaks well and attends eighth grade in Acton. Her balance issues haven’t kept her from dance classes, riding a bike, or her greatest passion – horseback riding.

The Red Acre Farm in Stow, where Bella rides, will hold a horse show fundraiser on June 23 for the Maynard-based Decibels Foundation, benefiting children with hearing loss.

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