Local event raises money for teen with muscular dystrophy

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When doctors informed Jenny Mitchell that her son Garrett was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 8, she was swarmed with mixed feelings of both despair and confusion.
But none of those feelings could change the love she felt for her son, whose family and friends affectionately nicknamed “Bear” due to his warm and affectionate personality.

“It was just heartbreaking … to face the fact that your child may have a shortened life because of this disease … and to know that life is just always going to be a struggle for him,” Mitchell said. “It just changes your whole world, your whole family dynamic. It changes everything, because all of your plans and hopes and dreams for the future get ripped out from under you. It flips your world upside down.”

Despite the progressive nature of her son’s condition, Mitchell said it hasn’t deterred Garrett, a Grant County Middle School student, from keeping an optimistic attitude about life, even in the face of deep adversity.
“He is funny, smart and very kind-hearted,” Mitchell said of her son. “He always has a smile on his face. Whatever challenge life throws at him, he just kind of smiles and goes on. But he’s very tenacious at the same time. He really goes with the punches.”

Garrett’s form of muscular dystrophy is a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. It is one of nine types of muscular dystrophy, according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
DMD is caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact. Symptom onset is in early childhood, usually between ages 3 and 5. The disease primarily affects boys, with one out of every 3,500 males acquiring it, but in rare cases it can affect girls.

Due to his disease, Garrett is rapidly losing his ability to walk, and was recently placed in a power wheelchair to aid in his mobility. He is currently in need of a specialized van that can lift and transport his power wheelchair to school and other activities, which is why his family and friends decided to create the Wheels for Garrett Benefit.

The event will feature entertainment, including live music from a DJ, and a large assortment of items for raffle opportunities. It will also feature BBQ sandwiches, hotdogs, chips, macaroni, baked beans and coleslaw, as well as drinks and desserts.

The event is Aug. 5 from noon to 8 p.m. on the Honey Locust Farm at 15100 Madison Pike in Morning View.
Ticket prices are $15 for a single ticket, $25 for two tickets and $1,000 for a sponsored table for 10. All proceeds go towards purchasing a specialized van for Garrett.

For ticket information, or to offer donations, call Paula Burden at (859) 468-2260. For those unable to make it to the benefit, the event organizers have established the Wheels for Garrett Benefit Fund at U.S. Bank.

The benefit also has a Go Fund Me account at gofundme.com/wheels-for-garrett-benefit. As of July 25, the page has raised $1,635 out of a desired $50,000.