DETROIT – A broken leg isn’t going to stop Lindsay Ratcliffe from being at the finish line of the annual walkathon to raise money for research on progeria, the extremely rare disease of accelerated aging that afflicts the Flat Rock, Mich., pre-schooler and 45 other people worldwide.

Lindsay, who turned 5 in February, was on her backyard playscape last week hanging upside down. She twisted one way and her foot twisted the other, resulting in a fractured lower left leg.

“I only cried for two minutes,” says Lindsay. She’s got a bright orange cast – in honor of the Detroit Tigers – and orange-painted tiny toenails to match.

The cast should be off before May 16, when her family, including parents Kristy and Joey Ratcliffe, stages the 4th Annual Miles for Miracles to raise money to help fund a clinical trial treatment to halt the ravages of progeria. Last year, the walk raised about $35,000 for research.

Lindsay has one of the rarest diseases known. Progeria prematurely ages her body at 6 to 8 times the normal rate. The disease stunts her growth, and makes her prey to hardening of the arteries, a precursor to the heart disease that can claim progeria patients at an average age of 13.

Lindsay is among 27 people with progeria who travel to Boston from 16 countries to participate in a clinical trial of a treatment.

The two-year trial will be completed in October, and researchers hope to release results in early 2010, said Audrey Gordon, the executive director of the Progeria Research Foundation.

“The trial is going very well,” she says. “It doesn’t mean this disease goes away. They need research to find a cure.”

Lindsay attends a three-day-a-week pre-school, is learning to count in Spanish and is about to embark on her second season of T-ball. One of her favorite things is visiting the Woodhaven (Mich.) Kroger, where cashiers greet her with enthusiasm and let her use the computerized wand to scan in coupons.

“She loves this store. She lights up this whole store,” says cashier Terry Hayes, who with her husband Charles helped raise $500 in last year’s walk.

“When she walks in, it’s ‘Here comes little Lindsay.’ Everybody loves Lindsay.”

TO HELP LINDSAY

Lindsay Ratcliffe’s parents, Kristy and Joe, are organizing the 4th annual Miles of Miracles walkathon to raise money to find a treatment to halt progeria, the disease of rapid aging that afflicts their 5-year-old daughter.

When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 16

Where: Fountain Park, Flat Rock, off Gibraltar Road

How you can help: Join the 2-mile walk or 3-mile run. Lindsay will lead the way across the finish line. There’s a $15 entry fee. If you preregister and have $150 in pledges, there is no entry fee. The Ratcliffes also need sponsors to help pay for T-shirts, hot dogs and mailing costs associated with the race.

Where the money goes: The Ratcliffes have raised about $100,000 over 3 years. Proceeds go to the Progeria Research Foundation to pay for Lindsay’s and other patients’ clinical trial treatment. For more information on progeria, visit www.progeriaresearch.org

For more information about Lindsay Ratcliffe and the walkathon, visit www.littlelindsay.com. To get a race flyer or application, e-mail [email protected]


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