South Charlotte

Event all about helping Jake

"Everyone is different," Emily Pritchard said about her son, Jake Pritchard.

Jake, a vibrant 7-year-old is "a happy little boy," said Pritchard.

At age 3, Jake was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

You'll get a chance to meet Jake at the fourth annual Brookhaven Family Run on Oct. 29 in the Brookhaven subdivision in Matthews. The run is taking place to honor Jake, bring awareness about Duchenne and raise money for research.

Jake will be participating in one of the four events - the 5K, 1-mile, 100-yard and 40-yard runs. He'll be leading the way and interacting with several hundred participants. There will be plenty of things to do: create crafts, jump inside inflatables, get your face painted, moo with the Chick-fil-A cow and eat.

With Jake will be his brother Ben, 5, dad, Michael, mom, Emily, and many Brookhaven neighbors. The goal for 2011 is $20,000. As of mid-October, $15,000 had been raised. Many local businesses jumped in to sponsor the event and some registered teams.

Crown Castle corporation located in Ballantyne created a team and has been involved in raising money. Their "Dress Down Week" in early spring brought in more than $1,000.

Top sponsors are Gunns Fitness and TrySports, along with other businesses helping with promotion and donations. Participants will find The Meat House and Poppyseed's Bagels present at the event. Other businesses include Uncle Bob's Self Storage, Carolina's Vision Group and Logo Works.

All proceeds benefit Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. PPMD is a nonprofit founded by parents of children with Duchenne. Even though it's based in Hackensack, N.J., it offers an international link to research, education, advocacy and compassion.

PPMD's website provides comprehensive information. Duchenne is a fatal genetic disorder affecting one in 3,500 boys worldwide. It is diagnosed in early childhood, progressively weakening muscles in legs and arms, as well as in the lungs and heart. Life expectancy is shortened; typically, boys live with Duchenne into their late 20s.

The Pritchards actively involve themselves in treatment for Jake. Daily stretching along with trips to a physical therapist helps with maintaining flexibility and minimizing contractures or shortening of muscles.

Jake's therapist, Jenn Poirier, said, "Jake has a wonderful imagination and his smile and laughter can light up a room. He deserves a promising future."

Jake's future is full with doctors and travel. He participated in a clinical trial at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. For the past four years he has been traveling there several times a year to meet with a medical team overseen by Dr. Brenda Wong, a neurologist. To date, there is no effective treatment or known cure.

Jake's parents are doing everything to help him maintain his strength and longevity.

Jake knows he's different. He uses a mobility scooter for long distances.

He wants people to come out for the run because it's fun. He'd love to beat everyone. Give him a chance. Meet a remarkable young boy full of vitality, personality and challenges.

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