Community Events

Exercise and help raise money for local child with Batten Disease

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Garrett Coyne, 5, of Gilbertsville, has a nervous system disorder known as Batten Disease. A community fitness challenge started this month to raise awareness and funds for the Garret the Grand Foundation.

By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury

Residents that get physically active this spring can help raise money for a local Gilbertsville boy with a rare terminal illness known as Batten Disease.

Five-year-old Garrett Coyne was diagnosed with Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis in 2014 which is an inherited disorder that affects the nervous system. Symptoms of the disease usually include seizures as well as loss of vision and intellectual function. Garrett is legally blind and has development delays. There is currently no cure or treatment.

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Men walk a lap around the track during the 11th Annual Boyertown Wellness Fair. The MOMS Club of New Hanover Township had a sign-up table at the fair to encourage people to participate in a community fitness challenge that will benefit a young boy with Batten Disease. Michilea Patterson — Digital First Media

The Wellness Council of Boyertown and the MOMS Club of New Hanover Township partnered for the second year to bring a virtual fitness challenge to the community. The community is asked to walk or exercise for 1,000 miles to raise awareness and funds for Garrett’s cause. Participants will travel on a virtual road from the Statue of Liberty in New York City to Ocean Beach in San Diego, Calif. The challenge officially started Monday and last until May 21.

“The great thing about it being virtual is that anybody can do it anywhere in the country and anywhere in the world,” said Kerry Bonner, a member of the New Hanover MOMS Club.

Bonner said about 250 individuals and teams participated in last year’s competition including her own relatives that live in the United Kingdom. She said people were very excited to do the challenge and were disappointed when it ended. Many of the people last year gained miles by walking or running but Bonner said all kinds of activities can be used to participate such as Pilates and tae kwon do. A conversion cart is used to determine how many miles various activities are worth. People can sign up for the challenge as an individual or a team. The cost is $15 per person.

Proceeds from the challenge will go toward the Garrett the Grand Foundation. The foundation recently started working with Dr. Steven Grey, who is researching a gene therapy at the University of North Carolina. The therapy could benefit people with Batten Disease, Alzheimer’s disease and more. New Hanover MOMS Club President Katie Bowne said the therapy is almost ready for human trial but will cost a total of about $150,000. Last year’s fitness challenge raised almost $3,000, she said.

To learn more about the challenge and to register online, visit www.boyertownwellness.com/community-fitness-challenge.html or call 484-868-0224. To learn more about Garrett and the Garrett the Grand Foundation, visit www.battenfighter.com.

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