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'Our Miracle Marie' walks to raise awareness for disease PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Lee   
Many people will gather to walk. The date is June 5. Nope, it’s not Relay for Life. It’s Landon’s Hope in Windsor.

Landon’s Hope is a 5K walk and family fun day to raise awareness and money for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. Landon Weatherby of Windsor was just over a year old when he died July 27, 2008 after a battle with Leigh’s disease, a mitochondrial disease. One year, one month and one day later, the same disease claimed the life of Marie Schlachter of Holyoke.

This is the second annual Landon’s Hope event and is in memory of both Landon and Marie. Last year, Marie, along with parents Shannon and Luke and big sister Josie, participated in the Landon’s Hope event.

Landon and Marie were born three months apart and were diagnosed within the same month with Leigh’s disease. The disease is very rare and Marie’s mom, Shannon, said one in 77,000 children are diagnosed with it. She connected with Landon’s mom (Tami) after their children had been diagnosed.

A program no longer in existence called Eli’s Angels sent books to families with children with mitochondrial diseases. The website had a message board where parents could talk with each other and support one another. Shannon posted about Marie and it turned out, Marie and Landon were at Children’s Hospital seeing the same doctors at the same time in 2007.

“I think we pretty much supported each other through the entire thing,” Shannon said. The support came even though the disease affected Marie and Landon differently.

Last year’s event was held on what would’ve been Landon’s second birthday. After Marie died in August, Tami Weatherby wanted to make sure the event would be held in memory of both Landon and Marie.

The event works in the same way as Relay for Life where teams are formed and raise money. Our Miracle Marie is one of the teams and is made up of Marie’s family which includes sister Sarah who was born the day before Marie died.

Teams are given a goal of $1,000. Last year during the inaugural event, $6,500 was raised.

There are currently only three teams signed up but Shannon said many come out of the woods closer to the actual date. Additionally, many people just show up to show support the day of and aren’t necessarily part of a team.

The walk will take place at Eastman Park in Windsor. Shannon said walkers follow a paved path through the park down to a pond, turn around and head back to where they started. The two and a half mile walk is coupled with breakfast, games, face painting, a raffle and many other fun things.

Childcare will be provided for those with young children who don’t want to walk.

The Schlachter family’s team “Our Miracle Marie” is planning to sell bracelets at a couple of stores in Holyoke to help raise money. They will be located at Veronica’s Hair and Nail Salon and the Enterprise.

Shannon also mentioned corporate sponsors are welcomed if any businesses would like to climb on board.

For those who would like to donate or even join team Our Miracle Marie, visit www.umdf.org/landonshope. For more information, contact Shannon Schlachter at 854-5333.