Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

March 2, 2014

Balloon launch helps raise awareness of rare disease

RUSSIAVILLE — More than 100 balloons floated into the sky above Western Middle School Friday as a gesture of care.

The balloon launch was part of a worldwide effort to raise awareness of chromosome 15q11.2-13.1 duplication syndrome as part of Rare Disease Day on Friday. Sixth grade students in the Navigator Hall at WMS have been following the plight of Connor, a student from British Columbia who has chromosome 15q11.2-13.1 duplication syndrome.

After completing a unit on Canada and having students read a novel set in the country, WMS teacher Stacy Smith wanted to tie those studies with Western’s focus on “caring” in February as its monthly Foundations for Life value. Western aide Tammy Smith helped connect the students with Connor and Indic15 Canada and organize the balloon launch.

Students learned about Idic15 Canada, a nonprofit that provides resources and advocacy for families living with chromosome 15q11.2-13.1 duplication syndrome. Having 47 chromosomes instead of 46 means the body’s messages get confused, which can result in seizures, autism, delayed speech, psychiatric problems and other issues.

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