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First Energy for Life Walkathon happening Saturday

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- This weekend, you can join the fight against Mitochondrial disease by participating in the first ever Energy for Life Walkathon in Southwest Florida.

Pediatrician Dr. Annette St. Pierre-MacKoul says it is becoming as common as childhood cancer, but many people don’t know about it.

“It’s a frustrating disease for me as a pediatrician because it’s very difficult to diagnose and unfortunately there’s no treatment for it,” said MacKoul.

Eight-year-old Gavin Lawrey of Cape Coral has been living with Mito for years. It leaves him with very little energy, seizures and other side effects that impact his every day life. But his big sister Makenzie is on a mission to raise $1 million for Mito research to help find a cure.

She says, “two people I know, Rylee and Xavier have already passed from it and I don’t want my brother to have to pass from it and I don’t want anyone else to either.”

She, and Rylee and Xavier’s older brother Drew, are determined to make a difference. Makenzie even wrote a book called ‘Mighty Mito Superhero’ about Gavin and his battle with Mito. She has sold thousands of copies across the world and raised more than $100,000 already.

Dr. MacKoul is Gavin’s doctor and she keeps copies of the book at her office to educate patients and spread awareness. She was also Rylee and Xavier’s doctor.

“Now taking on Gavin, not exactly what I chose pediatrics for, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. And if I can make a difference and help their journey through this disease process easier, I hope I can do that,” said MacKoul.

She says donating money for Mitochondrial disease research helps with other diseases as well.

“People don’t realize when you give a dollar to Mitochondrial research, you give to diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancers and a lot of other diseases because the mitochondria are in everything.”

Saturday, Gavin’s mom Brandi will co-chair the Energy for Life Walkathon, hoping to spread awareness and raise money for a cure for a disease slowly taking every bit of her son’s energy.

She says, “I have a lot of hopes for this walk, I think my biggest hope is to get Makenzie a little closer to this million dollar mission– a way for them to feel like they are making a difference for something so close to them. Gavin was recently diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s which is absurd, it’s not something you would ever imagine in an 8-year-old, and every fiber in my body says that’s Mito.”

To learn more about how to get involved in the walk, visit Energy for Life Walkathon.

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