Gracie Blue Eyes
Dad's song download proceeds help Prader-Willi association
Jonathan Todd, sitting with his 10-year-old daughter, Grace, has written Gracie Blue Eyes as a tribute to Grace, who has Prader-Willi syndrome. The song is being released on iTunes and Amazon.com, with the proceeds going to the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association. Buy This Photo
Love inspired Gahanna resident Jonathan Todd to write the song, Gracie Blue Eyes, about his daughter.
Ten-year-old Grace Todd, a fifth-grader in New Albany-Plain Local Schools, has a rare genetic condition called Prader-Willi syndrome.
Todd released the song on iTunes and Amazon.com on July 1, with all of the profits going to the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association. His goal is 10,000 downloads in the next 12 months.
The song also may be purchased for 99 cents via his website, www.gracieblueeyes.com.
"It was put into my heart this year to do something for my daughter and all children with Prader-Willi syndrome," Todd said. "I wanted to show her how much I love her for who she is and show her what love in action looks like. What better way to do that than to raise money to help kids like Grace?
"I hope she learns that everyone can make a difference, even with just 99 cents at a time," he said.
Grace Elaine Todd was born Sept. 7, 2001, in Lexington, Ky.
Though most babies cry, Todd said, Grace was very lethargic. She lacked muscle tone and a sucking reflex common to normal babies.
Grace was tested in her first six weeks of life for Prader-Willi, but the test came back negative.
Todd and his wife, Joy, moved back to Ohio, where further testing resulted in a diagnosis of Prader-Willi syndrome at age 2.
The syndrome affects one in 15,000 children. At birth, children exhibit a number of symptoms, such as lethargy, low muscle tone and feeding difficulties. As they age, they begin to develop an extreme and insatiable appetite.
The Todds said they keep their refrigerator doors under lock and key to eliminate any temptations.
"She's self-aware about food and tries to remain healthy," Todd said. "Her favorite TV show is The Biggest Loser."
Grace takes growth hormone injections to help balance her system.
Her maternal grandmother, Dee Anderson, affectionately known as "Grandee," said the injection makes the difference between a sock monkey and a statuette.
"It gives hormone balance to the system," the retired nurse said. "Everything clicks."
She said the affected chromosome -- No. 15 -- is affiliated with every system in the body.
"She has been instrumental in maximizing Grace's potential," Todd said of his mother-in-law.
His father-in-law, Dr. Ron Anderson, is a former longtime member of the Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education. Anderson and Joy Todd have practiced dentistry together in Gahanna.
Joy Todd's friend, Bonnie Clary, has helped instill Grace's love of horses.
"She has been a blessing," Todd said.
Grace hopes to teach other children how to ride horses. She started riding about six years ago to build strength.
Grace said she plans to show a paint horse at a fun show this year.
In addition to horses, Grace enjoys American Girl dolls, piecing puzzles together, swimming at the Foxboro pool and playing with all of the dogs in the neighborhood.
"Dogs are so different from everything else," she said. "I love cuddling up with them."
She said she knows all of the dogs in her neighborhood by name, including the dachshunds.
"There are four of them," she said. "I like to walk them and play ball with them.
"Another amazing thing I've done is such big puzzles," she said. "I've done a 1,000-piece puzzle."
Jonathan Todd said he and his family, including 7-year-old Troy, have been blessed with a supportive church family at Stonybrook United Methodist, along with good jobs and and a supportive family and friends.
He said his employer, Limited Brands, helped inspire him to give back.
"Giving is a huge part of that company," he said. "It's part of the everyday culture."
Downloading Gracie Blue Eyes is an easy and cheap way to help children, he said.
"It's a song about love, parenting and a rallying cry," Todd said. "Some of the words say, 'You'll know I never gave up. You'll pass along the best part of my life.'"