Sarah Kennedy had just given birth to her second daughter last December when her 16 month old daughter, Brielle, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type II. Five days after hearing this devastating news, her husband Eric was deployed to Afghanistan with the Army. While they were apart, Eric and Sarah were forced into action to determine how best to care for Brielle and also to deal with the possibility that the new baby, Brooke, may also be affected by the disease. While Eric was deployed, Sarah tackled the heavy work of contacting doctors and therapists and creating a plan for Brielle’s treatment and on top of all that, decided to have Brooke tested. When Brooke also tested positive for SMA type II, she was enrolled in the “Prospective Phase I/II Study to Evaluate Effects of Sodium Phenylbutyrate in Pre-symptomatic Infants with Spinal Muscular Atrophy” (or “STOP SMA”) study being conducted by Dr. Kathryn Swoboda at the University of Utah, with funding from FightSMA.
The extended Kennedy Family became involved with the larger SMA community, participating in fundraisers and contacting their Congressional Representatives about the SMA Treatment Acceleration Act. Sarah’s sister in North Carolina, Christen, introduced her co-workers at Hendrick Motorsports to SMA. After meeting Brielle for the first time at a race in Michigan, (with Christen’s help), Chad Knaus, the crew chief for three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion driver Jimmie Johnson, became interested in this little known disease and asked what he could do to help raise awareness.
Chad started by adding informational links about the disease to his personal website, but recently he has gone a step further. Chad will be sponsoring a hole at the upcoming Jimmie Johnson Foundation Annual Golf Tournament and has chosen to include the FightSMA logo on the sign posted at the sponsored hole. We thank Chad Knaus and the Jimmie Johnson Foundation for including FightSMA and for this wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of SMA.
Courtesy of FightSMA. View the article here.