Over the past 20 years, I’ve gotten to know many people from all all over the world who are interlinked by one common denominator – CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease. Despite cultural, social and economic differences, they share a common story, one which includes nerve degeneration, weakened leg/arm muscles, drop foot, claw toes, hand contractures, tremor, leg braces, foot surgeries, chronic pain and disability, just to name a few.
Some experience life-altering fatigue, easily broken bones, lack of proprioception due to loss of feeling, while others no longer have control of their hands or fingers and gasp for breath due to diaphramatic weakness. Some have even died due to complications from CMT.
Last week, I was speaking to a longtime friend, whose now 55-year-old son is bed-bound, unable to move, practically paralyzed from head to toe. His CMT, type unknown, has progressed rapidly, leaving this fiercely independent man completely reliant on the help of others.
His mom has been an extremely generous CMTA supporter for the past 30 years, and a supporter of the Cycle (and Walk!) 4 CMT event. When I heard just how much her son’s CMT had advanced, I felt angry. “I’m so done with CMT and its ravaging effects on my friends…SO OVER IT! I hate this stupid disease. It’s not only maddening, it’s depressing.”
I felt as though I had failed this family……and my own.
If only I could have done more to help her son….and so many others. I told her as much: “I wish I could have done more for him, for your family. It’s heartbreaking to think of him today, lying in that bed, unable to move. It’s disheartening to think of all my friends whose nerves are slowly degenerating as we speak. ”
Action empowers. Inaction disempowers.
If there is one action I can take, it’s to continue to support CMT treatment-driven research by fundraising, donating and ask others to do the same.
I pulled out a graphic the CMTA recently published, showing our current projects under STAR (Strategy to Accelerate Research). You can find this chart on the CMTA website: https://www.cmtausa.org/living-with-cmt/find-resources/cmta-reports/download-info/the-2019-cmta-annual-report/
Take a look:
This chart shows the depth and breadth of CMTA research projects. 11 years ago, this was a blank page. Now we have 50 projects and over 30 partners, all funded 100% by individuals who believe in the power of our scientific endeavors.
Charity Navigator, America’s largest & most-utilized charity evaluator, also awarded the CMTA its highest rating last year (4-star), which fewer than 1% of charities receive. Now, that gives every one of us bragging rights!
My friend reminded me, “The CMTA is doing miraculous life-changing work and if it does not help my son, I know it will help others. Together, with our CMT supporters, we will make an indelible mark in this world. We already have!”
She’s right. With her words spurring me on, and with renewed energy, I decided to transform my anger into passion and drive.
So, yes, I’m asking again this year for your help because I want my son to have the best life possible. I want my friends to remain healthy and able-bodied. I want our future generations to be free of CMT.
So, instead of cancelling the Cycle (and Walk!) 4 CMT, we’ve decided to host a VIRTUAL event. Anybody, anywhere can participate. www.cycle4cmt.com
If you don’t want to get your walking shoes on or your bike out, you can sponsor a participant or a team…….like Team Yohan! Will you sponsor Team Yohan and help us advance CMTA research? If so, click here: https://cmta.akaraisin.com/ui/cycle/team/300635
And for the first time ever, Yohan is actually biking, thanks to a lot of practice, commitment to our cause and his e-bike! The plan? They are doing a classic ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and around the Marin Headlands on Saturday, August 29. Meanwhile, I’ll be in Crissy fields wearing a Shark Costume (Shark-O-Marie-Tooth) spreading CMT awareness and scaring little kids (kidding).
We also have a $50k match running in August, so your contributions will be doubled!!
That’s a lot of good news in one post!! Join us. Go virtual. Donate and leave a legacy of CURING CMT!
Don’t forget…….Keep on trying; we will not fail!