Rocky Fork Enterprise

Columbus Duck Race & Run

Local couple hoping for cure for daughter's untreatable disease

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Two-year-old Reagan McGee, of Westerville, recently was diagnosed with a rare and fatal genetic disorder called Sanfilippo syndrome, also known as MPS III.
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A central Ohio couple hope the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital might save their 2-year-old daughter, who has a disease for which no treatment or cure is available.

The third annual Columbus Duck Race & Run on Saturday, Aug. 23, is all about helping Westerville toddler Reagan McGee and children like her by raising funds to benefit the Research Institute.

Reagan was diagnosed with a rare and fatal genetic disorder called Sanfilippo syndrome.

The scientific name is mucopolysaccharidosis III (MPS III), according to information from the National MPS Society's website, mpssociety.org. Children with the disease are unable to appropriately break down sugar, thus causing carbohydrates to accumulate throughout the somatic and central nervous system.

Although children with the disease appear normal at birth, they later show severely delayed neurological development and become unable to talk, walk or even feed themselves.

The institute is organized into 12 centers of emphasis that allow traditional academic boundaries to be crossed and merged to facilitate interdisciplinary research, according on information from the institute. Among these centers is the Center for Gene Therapy, where the research on MPS III occurs.

"After hearing such devastating news only a few weeks ago, we are now filled with hope because of the wonderful doctors and research going on at Nationwide Children's Hospital," said Karin McGee, Reagan's mother.

"We are in a race against time to save our daughter, and I know the doctors and staff at Nationwide Children's are in the race with us. It gave us the feeling that we are not in this alone."

The annual duck race has been moved to Gahanna's Creekside this year. It will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, with a 5K and 10K race for adults and a short run for children.

Thousands of ducks will be dropped into the Big Walnut Creek at 11:30 a.m. near the paddleboats at Creekside Park.

Katie Zachrich, event chairwoman, said anyone who purchases a rubber duck, enters the foot races or donates to the cause is helping find a treatment, a cure and prevention of childhood diseases.

The way the duck race works is that de Children's will provide and maintain possession of all rubber ducks that have serial numbers for tracking purposes.

The numbers are emailed a few days prior to the race to registered participants, and winners will be announced on the day of the event.

Prizes are coordinated within seven business days, and participants need not need be present to win.

The registered owner of the winning duck will win first prize: a one-year prepaid lease for a BMW Mini Cooper, courtesy of BMW Financial Services. Second place is groceries/gas for a year, valued at $5,200, from Kroger. The registered owner of the third-place duck will win $1,000 cash from Kemba Financial Credit Union.

Ducks can be purchased at columbusduckrace.com. The cost is $5 for a duck; a family of six ducks costs $25; flock of 12 ducks is $50; and a colony of 25 ducks is $100.

Zachrich said 4,889 ducks already have been sold.

"This year, we will have a remote-control helicopter equipped with a GoPro camera to capture the race as thousands of ducks are dropped and race down the creek," she said.

The finish will be near the pedestrian bridge/walkway.

"People tend to line up to watch the dramatic drop of thousands of rubber ducks and then cheer on their ducks as they make their way to the finish line," Zachrich said. "It's going to be a really fun, festival-like atmosphere with all kinds of entertainment for the community to enjoy, all while supporting a great cause."

In addition to the 5K and 10K runs and children's fun run, attendees will hear music by Swagg, along with a musical performance from a Nationwide Children's Hospital patient.

She said this year's goal is to sell 20,000 ducks and raise $100,000.

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