Community rallies around Orrick student to help raise awareness and funds for research into rare disease
To complete a 5K race in tiny Orrick, runners have to double-back on the route and meet the walkers who are still following behind.
It’s all part of the good fun, however, when those runners and walkers are participating in a cause: raising money to help researchers learn more about a rare disease afflicting one of Orrick’s own.
“I came to support Maci and have a good time,” said Turner Twyman, the runner who crossed the finish line first.
His words were echoed by many of the scores of people who filled Orrick’s streets Saturday morning. They all came to “support Maci.”
Maci is Maci Jeffries, who, last December, was diagnosed with Gorham’s disease, a rare disease in which the body resorbs bone. Only about 200 people are known to have it.
“We came to support Maci,”said Mitch Comstock, who ran the race with his wife, Jill Comstock, and their son, Dylan. The Comstocks are both teachers in the Orrick school district, and Maci is in Mitch Comstock’s physical education class. Maci works on rehabilitation in class, he said, and is doing a great job.
“She’s definitely an inspiration,” Comstock said. “If you can’t work hard when you’re around her, you can’t work hard.”
Scott Battagler, a former Orrick resident who now lives in Lawson, repeated the refrain.
“I’m here to support a good cause,” said Battagler, who reached the finish line shortly after Twyman.
Orrick resident Leanne Jones said she walks every day. She and Maci’s mother are friends, so Jones said she, too, came to support the Jeffries family.
While supporting Maci was the order of the morning, many participants said additional factors motivated them as well.
Dennis Mayberry and Larry Danner, for example, are acquainted with the Jeffries through Mayberry’s Richmond business. Mayberry said he tries to run a race once a month, and this race fit the bill for September.
Likewise, Kelsey Binkley of Gladstone is a member of a running club. She heard about the race from the organizer’s daughter, so Binkley and her children came to Orrick to participate.
Nancy Coleman, well-known for managing Ray County’s 4-H program, came because Maci is a 4-H member.
“We just think this is the right thing to do,” she said.
Jeni McNelly, co-owner of a hair salon in Richmond, heard at work about Maci.
“I came to support this little girl – and get some exercise!” McNelly said.
Timothy O’Dell and his children, Kristin, Abby and Zac, manned a water station about halfway through the race.
“Maci’s my friend,” Kristin said, explaining why she came out to help.