Family of Lexington child with aging disease raises research money

Family of boy with rapid-aging disease stage a fund-raiser

March 29, 2011 

Zach Pickard, the 4-year-old Lexington boy who has the rapid-aging disease progeria, continues to participate in a clinical drug trial in Boston — even as his family's campaign to raise money for progeria research blossoms.

The most recent event staged by the Pickard family, the Zach Attack Bowl-a-Thon on March 6 at Southland Bowling Lanes, drew 232 bowlers and raised $12,000 for the Progeria Research Foundation.

Zach, who was diagnosed with the disease as an infant, now writes his alphabet. His favorite book is Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham. He can write his own name.

His favorite pastime is cutting shapes with scissors, then gluing them with paper. He is fascinated by sharks and likes to play with his monster trucks.

Zach is one of 45 children from 30 countries who are participants in a three-drug trial for progeria patients in Massachusetts.

"We'll be going back to Boston within the next few months," said Tina Pickard, Zach's mother.

The Kentucky chapter of the Progeria Research Foundation will next participate in Community Organization Night at the Lexington Legends on May 13, where Zach will probably throw out the first ball.

Progeria, at its most basic, is a disease about cell deterioration. The disease robs cells of their biological scaffolding, so they deteriorate more quickly. Progeria children generally start displaying symptoms when they're 18 to 24 months old.

As of December 2010, the research foundation had identified 78 children in 31 countries with progeria. The organization suspects that, based on statistical distribution of the disease, there are 150 more children in the world who have not yet been diagnosed and identified with the disease.

Cheryl Truman

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