Inspired by the daughter of an Augusta Preparatory Day School science teacher, pupils at the private school held a fundraising walk for the Muscular Dystrophy Association on Friday.
Erin Allen, 4, the daughter of Augusta Prep seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher Kim Allen, was diagnosed with Type 2 spinal muscular atrophy before the age of 1, her mother said.
Spinal muscular atrophy strikes one in 23,000 children born in the United States, according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The disease is caused by recessive genetic traits.
Day care workers said Erin was having greater difficulty rolling over and moving than other children her age, Allen said.
On Friday, Erin raced around the school's track in her new motorized wheelchair, receiving encouragement and well-wishes from pupils and teachers walking around her.
"The world is expanding for her," Allen said of the new chair, which has allowed Erin to move with freedom. Erin recently entered the laundry room of the Allen home and watched her mother wash clothes for the first time.
Members of the student council organized the walk and designed posters to urge pupils to give, said Rich Bland, a volleyball coach at Augusta Prep.
As of Friday afternoon, the pupils raised $2,500, Bland said.
The school also held a Halloween parade and a carnival in the morning, said John Stephens, the head of the Augusta Prep middle school.
Erin takes ballet classes and is able to move her upper body while her teacher helps her move her legs. This serves as great physical therapy, Allen said.
Erin appeared on the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon this year after raising $360 for the charity, her mother said.
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