By Stan Sorensen
An overcast sky and breezy cool weather didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of participants Saturday in the Fourth Annual Jackson Culley Mito What? 5K at USA Stadium in Millington.
The beaming faces and warm smiles of the runners, joggers and walkers provided ample comfort to both participants and observers who crowded the parking lot in front of the Stadium. Hundreds of entrants donated thousands of dollars to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation in order to better the research, treatment and open the doors a little wider to the hope for a cure for this disease.
The crowds were a rainbow assortment of nationalities and age groups representing many areas of Tennessee and outlying states.
Children in dark green shirts with bright green streamers in their hair darted about laughing and some danced with the Chick-fil-a cow mascot (one of the donating organizations).
Although Jackson Culley was unable to attend due to being ill, he was represented by a large gathering of the Culley clan including his father, John and siblings Elisebeth and Wesley. John was just about everywhere, helping and greeting as were the multitude of Culleys and supporters who were a community of smiles, handshakes and hugs.
The family took time to educate event-goers about Mitochondrial. This illness results from failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments in every cell in the body, except red blood cells.
They provide 90 percent of the energy required to sustain life and support growth. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell damage and even cell death follow. Mostly the very young are victims of this disease.
Richard and Kristi Hogg and their daughters Marli and Mayci came down from Jackson. Mayci is 12 years old and has suffered Mitochondrial disease from the time she was a toddler. She has been able to survive an unusually long time, due to the love of the families attending events like in Millington.
Also Mayci’s survival can be contributed to alternative treatment in a hyperbaric chamber, where she receives 100 percent pressurized oxygen which is absorbed into her body’s cells. Trisha works in the hyperbaric treatment field and would like everyone to be aware of this form of treatment. The treatment has improved the quality of life for Mayci. The Culleys and Hoggs hope further support of donors and events like the one held in Millington will eventually bring a cure to the disease.