|By Sarah M. Corigliano|
Assistant Managing Editor
LONGMEADOW What has become an annual fall tradition in Longmeadow is returning next month with a few changes designed to make the event more family friendly and accessible to local residents.
The Mito-What? 5K, which benefits the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF), will become a walk this year, but the route will remain the same.
The 5K began seven years ago when several local families whose children were diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease wanted a way to raise awareness about it, and raise funds for research and, someday, a cure.
It began as a road race and walk, starting at Bay Path College and featuring family-friendly entertainment and many chances to win raffle prizes.
Walk organizer Jackie Tyler said, in addition to the same features from past years, this year there will be even more for families.
Included will be a more elaborate fun zone for children, with activities from panning for gems, jumping in a bounce house, playing carnival games, or relaxing with some tasty ice cream. Kids can also walk with their parents to support UMDF. There will also be musical entertainment by John O'Neil.
The Mito-What? 5K, which got its name from a common expression from people when they first heard the name of the disease, will take place rain or shine Oct. 8. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., with the walk starting at 11 a.m. at Bay Path College. Tyler said anyone intersted in volunteering at the event or becoming a donor may call 567-5435 for more information.
According the the UMDF web site, www.umdf.org, "Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments present in every cell of the body except red blood cells.
"Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90 percent of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow.
"If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole systems begin to fail, and the life of the person in whom this is happening is severely compromised. The disease primarily affects children, but adult onset is becoming more and more common.
"Diseases of the mitochondria appear to cause the most damage to cells of the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscles, kidney and the endocrine and respiratory systems.
"Depending on which cells are affected, symptoms may include loss of motor control, muscle weakness and pain, gastro-intestinal disorders and swallowing difficulties, poor growth, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, respiratory complications, seizures, visual/hearing problems, lactic acidosis, developmental delays and susceptibility to infection."
Registration forms for the Mito-What? 5K are available at www.mitowhat.org, or by calling 567-5435.