https://www.wcvb.com/article/5-for-good-fundraiser-supports-efforts-to-combat-lyme-disease-as-local-teen-fights-illness/27030040 News Video in Link With Transcript
5 for Good: Fundraiser supports efforts to combat Lyme disease as local teen fights illness
Ride Out Lyme benefits Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness, patients, research
WELLESLEY, Mass. —Wellesley Middle School student Siena Cohen described first meeting her figure skating teammate, Emily Sparks.
“I honestly looked up to her,” Cohen said. “She was such an amazing skater. She was really nice and really welcoming to everybody.”
Emily is skilled at sports and school, but above all, thoughtful beyond her years, according to her cousin, Elyse Mackenzie.
“Always a smile on her face, always being empathetic and nurturing, even at 13,” Mackenzie said.
Mackenzie is a senior at Boston College. She said she would often watch Emily and her siblings.
“In August, I was there babysitting for a few days when Emily started getting sick,” she said.
Mackenzie said at first, Emily had flu-like symptoms, but her condition quickly worsened. In September, Emily was supposed to start the seventh grade after graduating from St. John School in Wellesley, but she was too sick. Emily went through several tests, including one for Lyme disease.
“It came back negative,” Mackenzie said. “But when her mom, Susie, was at back to school night with the younger sibling, Jackie, she was talking to one of the parents and described Emily’s symptoms and (the parent) said, ‘This might sound crazy, but I had a really similar experience.’”
That St. John School parent was Brandi Dean, who eight years ago was diagnosed with Lyme disease.
“The thing about Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses is there are a lot of symptoms,” Dean said. “So, for me, I had neurological symptoms. It was very hard for me to read and write. I had vertigo.”
Dean said her debilitating symptoms lasted long after treatment. The experience inspired her to open the Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston.
“We treat patients who are experiencing chronic symptoms, who have already been treated with antibiotics and are still very sick,” Dean said.
More thorough blood tests at the Dean Center revealed Emily did have Lyme disease. She is now gravely ill at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Donations in Emily’s honor are now being collected for Ride Out Lyme, an annual spinning fundraiser. Money raised goes to the Dean Center, patient grants and research.
“When people give to this amazing foundation and support these scientists and doctors and researchers who are so intent on finding a cure, I think that’s where the answer will be,” Mackenzie said.
The fifth annual Ride Out Lyme is April 7 in Boston. Find out more here.
Please spread the word in Wisconsin about the Lyme Awareness Event FREE to the public on May 4, 2019. Please copy and distribute flyers and post on social media. Details here: