Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2007

MDA fundraiser ride is Saturday

June 14, 2007

A local man diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as a child is planning to help those who helped him in the past.

Scott Wilhite, a 2000 graduate of Baldwin High School, is hosting a benefit horse ride and auction Saturday at Rockhaven Park, which is south of Clinton Lake. Proceeds will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Wilhite said it will cost $25 for a horse ride on a trail along Clinton Lake. Rides start at 9 a.m. All the items for the auction were donations from area businesses. They include gift certificates and items such as fans, candles and coolers. The auction is set for 4 p.m.

"I have lived with it (MD) all my life," he said. "MDA has done a lot for me and I just want to give something back."

Wilhite was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was a child and was not expected to live long, let alone walk. The former MDA poster child traveled throughout the country educating people about the disease.

Now, at age 26, he works on a ranch in Park City, Neb. Although he can do much of the work, Wilhite said he still feels the effects of MD.

"I can go out and work with the rest of the guys, but when I come back, I hurt," he said. "It is more stressful on me than other people."

He said his bones are fragile and his muscles are weak from the disease, but that does not stop him from doing his work.

MD is a disease that causes muscle tissue to progressively weaken. Angela Hills, health care service coordinator for the Kansas City MDA, said there are 43 classifications of MD that vary in age of onset, severity and origin.

Some forms, like Wilhite's, have onset at a young age with severe muscle deterioration, while others like ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, occur later in life. While all forms have different characteristics, Hills said all forms do not have a cure.

Hills said the Kansas City MDA office, which is at the Kansas University Medical Center, offers treatment, support groups, wheelchairs and scooters, public education and a summer camp for children with MD.

The Kansas City MDA is funded by private funds. So fundraisers like Wilhite's benefit ride are important, Hills said.

"Every penny counts," she said.

Mylinda Wilhite, Scott Wilhite's stepmother, has picked up many of the donated items for the auction and said she hopes the benefit will provide inspiration for children with MD.

"What I'm hoping people see is that there is hope for people with MD for a cure," she said, "and that miracles do happen."

The benefit ride and auction was originally scheduled for last week, but was rained out. Wilhite said the benefit will take place rain or shine Saturday. Either way, he said it should be an enjoyable time.

"Even with no one else out there last time, it was still fun," he said.

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