Many people have never heard of scleroderma, but Greenbrier High School senior Ansley Thompson is trying to educate the public about the illness.
As part of her senior project, she is organizing a walk to raise awareness about the disease and to raise research funds for scleroderma, a chronic connective tissue disease that is characterized by hardening of the skin.
Ansley said one form of the disease can affect a person's organs, the type that took the life of her grandfather, Joe Cagle, in 2001.
The walk is scheduled for Saturday, which would have been her grandfather's 70th birthday.
"It's in honor of him," she said of her senior project.
Ansley said she has raised $650 thus far by sending letters to her family and friends, but she hopes to raise $1,000. She will give the money to Hope for Life Family, an organization founded by her mentor, Vickie Goswick, of Calhoun, Ga., who also has the disease.
"They will use my money to find better treatments and hopefully a cure," Ansley said.
She also said she has a message for those who have scleroderma.
"There is hope out there, and they are working really hard and putting a lot of time into finding treatments," Ansley said.
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