ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- It started with a heartfelt post this weekend on the First Coast News Facebook page. Now, a 12-year-old Jacksonville girl on a mission to help raise awareness about a fatal disease her grandmother is battling has connected with people around the world.
Logan Gable's grandmother, Marlene Gable of Orange Park, means the world to her. She said her grandmother has always put others before herself, from helping homeless children to helping the elderly. Now as Marlene battles Multiple System Atrophy, known as MSA, Logan wants to help her achieve her goal before it's too late. They are pushing for the state of Florida to follow in the footsteps of several other states and recognize March as "MSA Awareness Month."
Doctors at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville diagnosed Marlene, now 62, with MSA in 2011. It's a rare, neurodegenerative disorder similar to Parkinson's or ALS.
"All of a sudden I was running into walls and the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong. They thought it was my balance and now MSA they found out I have. It affects my speech, my balance ... You think putting on your shoes would be easy but it's very difficult to get dressed. I have to have someone to dress me now," said Marlene.
It's estimated about 15,000 Americans have been diagnosed with MSA at any given time and as many as 35,000 more are misdiagnosed with another disorder according the group "Miracles for MSA".
Right now, Marlene said there is no cure and no way to prevent MSA from getting worse.
"That is hard to know that you have only have 7-10 years ... Who knows how long I had this before. When you go backwards to see how long I was running into walls. It was funny at first, but it is not now," said Marlene.
Marlene is now on a mission to raise awareness about the disease that taken away her independence, and her granddaughter is leading the effort.
"It's really hard. I love her so much and seeing her go through this makes me sad," said Logan.
Logan, a sixth grader at Clay Hill Elementary School, shared her grandmother's story on Facebook and has gotten a tremendous response, hundreds of likes and dozens of comments from people around the world. She also learned that there are at least four other people in Florida living with MSA.
"A lot of people have been sending me messages and asking lots of questions about her and everything about what all I've done to try to raise awareness about MSA ... She means everything to me. She has always been there for me and been with me through hard times and everything and she's there for me whenever I need her," said Logan.
"I'm so proud of her," said Marlene.
Logan and her family are wearing purple to raise awareness about MSA. They hope more people will join their effort to help find a treatment and a cure.
Marlene's only child, Jack Gable said, "We don't know the cause. Perhaps if we can get enough awareness someone can determine the cause and perhaps save somebody in the future."
And Marlene is not giving up hope.
"With God's help, they will find a cure."
The Gables are encouraging Floridians to write their local lawmakers and urge them to make March "MSA Awareness Month".
To learn more about MSA and help find a cure click here.
First Coast News