Sammamish High School senior Melva Buyers met four-year-old Aidan Leffler a couple weeks ago when he came to a school assembly.
“He was just running around on stage,” Buyers said. “He is so full of life and one of the most energetic kids I’ve ever met.”
Two years ago, Leffler was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a disease that is 100 percent fatal. Parents, Mitch and Mindy Leffler, have begun a race against time to help find a way to save their son. More than 200 student volunteers are rallying behind Mitch, their teacher at Sammamish High School.
This Saturday, May 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the community is invited to participate in the 3rd annual Run/Walk for Aidan at the Sammamish High School football field, at 100 140th Ave. S.E. The 5k run was organized by students to raise funds to aid the Lefflers and to contribute to help find a cure for DMD.
In addition to the walk-a-thon, the Walk for Aidan event will include concessions, a car wash and appearances by local sports celebrities, such as former Mariners player Jay Buhner, who will sign autographs and take photos with participants. Attendees are encouraged to bring cash for snacks, BBQ and beverages.
Admission to the event is $10 per person and includes a complimentary t-shirt.
Proceeds will benefit the Aidan Leffler Trust Fund, which has helped the Leffler family with the cost of medical treatments to allow Aidan to live the most comfortable life possible. In the future, it will help with the cost associated with possible house renovations, since, if a cure isn’t found and the disease progresses, Aidan will require the use of a wheelchair.
But students hope the event also will fund research to help find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. For the first time this year, participants can choose to donate to the Leffler fund, or Charley’s Fund, a nonprofit dedicated solely to finding a cure for the disease.
“While we love supporting the Leffler’s because they are such an incredible family, we also really believe that Aidan still has a chance,” said Sammamish senior Sarah Reed, who is also the event lead. “We can push the research that much further with the money raised for Charley’s Fund.”
Last year’s event raised $18,000 and students hope to raise $25,000 this year.
Students also hope the event will raise awareness about the disease, which causes boys to gradually lose control of their muscles, eventually causing paralysis. Most boys who are diagnosed with DMD do not live past their early 20s, which is why finding a cure is crucial for the Lefflers.
Reed, who loves to play with Aidan, said he is lovable and gives hugs to everyone he meets.
“You’ll fall in love with him,” she said. “It makes it easy to go all out on this event just because he’s so worth it.”
Carrie Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-453-4290.