Each year, many students across the nation look forward to running the Boosterthon Fun Run at their school. As the time nears for the school to host the 9-day program, students begin to raise pledges for each lap they run. However, the fundraising experience for one student was a bit different this year than the last.
Instead of running laps around the track, Kelsey, a first grader at Wolford Elementary in McKinney, TX handed out water and cheered on her fellow classmates from the sidelines.
Although she would have loved to be out on the Boosterthon Speedway running with the others, Kelsey found a different way to be a part of the team, support her classmates and participate in the EPIC Adventure. The reason? Kelsey is one of only 800 youth under the age of 18 with a rare disease called Myasthenia Gravis (MG).
MG is an auto-immune disease that comes from Greek and Latin words meaning “grave muscular weakness.” Although her muscles may be weak, Kelsey is strong at heart. Her mother describes her as a typical first grade girl who is funny and sweet as can be. She enjoys art, being a “Daisy” in Girl Scouts, music, the color pink and tae kwon do.
“Our whole family does tae kwon do, and it actually is great because her doctor recommended it as a form of exercise that Kelsey can do at her own pace,” said Lea Ann, Kelsey’s mom. “In fact, I was pregnant with Kelsey when I tested for one of my belts. Kelsey helped me break wood before she was born!”
Lea Ann showed that Kelsey does not let her MG get her down. Although she may not be able to do things like play soccer with her friends, Kelsey excels in other areas. Kelsey's family is determined to replace the things she can’t do with fun alternatives for Kelsey. They have learned to adapt and be thankful—one of the leading neurologists focusing on MG is located in Dallas, not too far from Kelsey’s home.
In addition, she even tested into the Talented and Gifted program at school. “Kelsey loves school and we hope that school can become her ‘sport’ that she really excels at,” said Lea Ann. “Plus, Kelsey has some good friends in the Talented and Gifted program, so it is nice for her to have things in common with them.”
Overall, Kelsey and her family have learned to be positive and adapt to their situation. MG has become such a part of Kelsey’s life that she knows she has to live with it and trust her parents to help make the best decisions for her.
As Kelsey reaches the year mark since her thimectomy—an operation that should help her symptoms after 12 months—her family is pleased to see that Kelsey is feeling better and experiencing fewer problems with her MG. But their main hope is that her symptoms will go into remission, as there is no cure for her disease.
In order to help Kelsey and others who are diagnosed with MG, Kelsey's family participates in fundraising for MG research through the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s annual telethon. Since MG is so rare and has similar symptoms as MD, it falls under the MDA, and has been crucial in helping with Kelsey’s symptoms.
As owners of a local business in their town, Kelsey's parents sold products in the store where all profits went directly to the funding of MG research. Kelsey’s Cause, as they called it, was able to raise awareness and money for this extremely rare disease.
As Kelsey encourages others daily by being positive and sweet while struggling with MG, she and her family understand that there are going to be difficulties in life, and they will learn to work with them as they come.
Regardless, you will be able to find Kelsey at the Boosterthon Fun Run next year putting our adventure action “Encourage” into action as she smiles and hands out water to her fellow classmates.
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The Boosterthon Fun Run is a fundraising company designed for America’s top schools. Since 2001, Boosterthon’s taught millions of students across the nation about the importance of fitness, leadership, and character while helping schools raise needed funds. To inquire how our unique fundraising program can help with your school’s fundraising needs, visit www.boosterthon.com/contact.