Sunday, June 27, 1999
Young Cancer Patients Saddle Up for Family Day at Camp Near Ojai
By HOLLY J. WOLCOTT, Special to The Times
OJAI--Blond, curly haired Tasha Dixon suffers excruciating aches and pains in her reedy body since beating brain cancer as a baby. She is now 13. For three of his four years on Earth, wide-eyed Luis Dzib, who wears gold
chains on each wrist and a small crucifix around his neck, has battled leukemia. And Keith McKenna, 14, has undergone a bone marrow transplant, repair to hisesophagus, chemotherapy and radiation. He hasn't needed treatment for his cancer for two years, and if he remains clean for three more, he may be out of the woods.
This trio, and a dozen more kids with cancer and other debilitating or deadly diseases, gathered in the woods above Ojai on Saturday to forget about the scary business of being sick and concentrate on having fun.
The youngsters and their family and friends came to Dennison Park to play and ride horses as part of a therapeutic equestrian program launched this weekend by the Landon Pediatric Foundation and the Lions Club. "It's so nice for them to have a little time to run around and forget about going to the doctor," said Lily Rubio, a Santa Paula mother who brought her two daughters, 6 and 2, and her sister, Christina Duran, 17. Every day, Rubio wakes up and braids her oldest daughter's long dark hair before driving her to Ventura for hours of physical therapy. Carmen Rubio, 6, has cerebral palsy and getting through each day is a chore. Wearing a light pink dress that matched her younger sister's, Carmen ambled up to a tan pony and gently brushed its coat with her mom's help. A few minutes later, she went back to the pony and brushed it again. Her little body wobbled as she walked in thick steel braces that keep her legs straight.
"My favorite animal is a lion," Carmen said. She favors the big creature after seeing the movie "The Lion King." For the last couple of years, Landon and the Lions have hosted Lions' Camp Dennison, a series of day camps for kids with asthma, cancer, diabetes and those suffering from obesity. County-owned Dennison Park consists of two patches of land on opposing sides of Highway 150. It was overhauled by Dr. Chris Landon, head of the foundation that bears his name, Lions Club members and a lot of volun