Local ride to benefit disease research

By Staff
Rebecca Walker, Franklin County Times
During her pregnancy, Muscle Shoals native Laura Mitchell Bonham knew something was wrong. Two weeks before she was due, her baby stopped moving.
An emergency Cesarean section was performed to save the child. The newborn was immediately rushed to another hospital for a blood transfusion and surgery to remove part of her intestines.
The family was informed that their new baby, Grace Bonham, was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.
Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that 1 in 31 people are carriers of. In the United States, there are 30,000 cases. One of these dies each day. Cystic Fibrosis is a childhood disease, and the number one genetic killer of children and young people to date.
Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis include salty-tasting skin, persistent coughing, wheezing, or pneumonia, excessive appetite with poor weight gain, and bulky, foul smelling stools.
"I was surprised when I started finding out how many people in this area have Cystic Fibrosis, or have a family member who has it or has died from it," said Grace's grandmother, Joyce Mitchell. "Most people don't even know they are carriers of it. My daughter was a carrier, and married a carrier. That's how Grace got it."
There are several tests for discovering if one is a carrier of the disease. The most effective is a blood test, but there are also swab tests and sweat tests. There are two Cystic Fibrosis lab centers in Birmingham where tests can be sent.
There is no cure for Cystic Fibrosis. Grace is now four years old, and must take 20 pills a day to help her digest food. Before she eats in the morning, she must begin treatment. She also goes through physical therapy twice a day to loosen the abnormally excessive mucous in her chest.
Mitchell, who has worked to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation since her granddaughter was diagnosed, encourages parents to be on the lookout for symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis.
Grace knows that she has Cystic Fibrosis. Her daily routine is very meticulous. However, her grandmother says that she is a happy child, and that she loves life.
"I'd just like for the public to be aware of [Cystic Fibrosis]. If anyone suspects that their child has symptoms, they should ask for test," said Mitchell.
The earlier it is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can start. As a result, the child will have a longer life expectancy, because of less damage to their bodies from the disease.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the only organization that works solely for Cystic Fibrosis patients. The organization works toward a cure, and feel that they are on the edge of finding one.
According to Smart Money magazine, a publication of the Wall Street Journal, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the "charity that won't waste your money." Only 9-percent of all funds raised by the Foundation go to fundraising and administrative costs. The other 91-percent goes to research, medical programs, public and professional information and education, and community services.
On June 16, local motorcycle riders will have a chance to help the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the patients who benefit from their work. The Ride for Life charity motorcycle ride will take place to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and will serve as a memorial to those who have died because of Cystic Fibrosis.
Registration for the ride will be at 9 a.m. at Jonathan's Steakhouse in Russellville on Highway 43. Registration fees are any donations from the heart, according to Mitchell. The ride will begin at 10 a.m. Jonathan's Steakhouse will also be making a donation to the cause.
There will be door prizes, and an auction. Anyone wanting to pre-register can do so by sending checks to Roy Walton, 319 Windsor Drive, Russellville, AL 35653. The checks should be made out to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.