Alex Marshall was born on January 11, 1999, weighing 10 lbs. 2 oz. He progressed in a typical manner until he was six months old, after which time he began to regress in his abilities. He could no longer sit unsupported, and he could no longer kick in the bathtub. He never had the ability to push with his legs or attempt to crawl. When we expressed concern about Alex’s lack of strength, doctors told us he was just a “lazy baby” and would develop at his own speed. After consulting more doctors, Alex was diagnosed with SMA Type II at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital on January 20, 2000 – at one year old.
Our family was totally devastated. Alex looked like a typical kid, but we were told that he was not going to develop like a typical kid. We started to search for other families with SMA children and first met a family in Columbus that was planning a fundraiser for SMA. We went to the event at which an SMA researcher said that a cure for SMA was two to three years away. Our naïve reaction was to lament that Alex would not be able to walk until he is four years old. Alex was only two at the time. Alex is now 12 years old.
Here we are in 2011 and, because of Dr. Kaspar and his team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University, we have greater promise for a cure than we have seen in the eleven years since Alex’s diagnosis. Dr. Kaspar has developed a gene therapy program that brings the possibility of real help for SMA children. We pray that the progress to clinical trials is successful, and we send our $5,000 pledge to “The 200 for SMA” Challenge. Together we can raise $1,000,000. Thank you to Dr. Kaspar for giving us new hope, and thank you to the Gaynor family for creating the vehicle to make it happen! ~Rosemary Hilston (Alex’s Grandma)