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Americans are extraordinarily generous people.



When disasters such as Hurricane Katrina or the 2005 tsunami occur, we open our hearts and wallets to help those in need. And each year we give millions of dollars to charities that fight breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, leukemia and other major diseases.



We live in the wealthiest society on the planet, and enjoy a standard of living unsurpassed in the history of mankind. Therefore, I believe that charitable giving should be something we do on a regular basis, not just when major disasters occur. The problem is that with so many worthy causes in need of our support, it can be hard deciding where to give our time and our money.



As the mother of four very healthy children, I have a special place in my heart for children who are not so fortunate. So when a call goes out to help young children who face extraordinary challenges, I feel it is my duty to respond.



I don’t normally use this articles or my blog to promote specific causes. But in this case I am going to ask your help for a special organization and some very special children.



Skylar’s Story




I recently learned that a good friend of mine has a nephew with a genetic disease called spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA. SMA affects the muscles that control basic activities such as crawling, walking, head and neck control, and swallowing. Approximately one out of every 6,000 kids is born with SMA, and about half of those diagnosed with SMA die before age two. Those that survive are confined to wheelchairs for the remainder of their lives, and most have very limited mobility.



My friend’s nephew is named Skylar. Although he is one of the lucky ones who made it past his second birthday, Skylar’s life is a difficult one. He must have his lungs pumped several times a day in order to remove fluids that build up because his chest muscles don’t work properly. And soon he will have a permanent feeding tube inserted into his stomach because he can’t chew and swallow enough food to maintain a healthy weight.



In spite of these difficulties, Skylar is a very bright and likeable young boy whose courage and resilience in the face of this disease is truly inspiring. Skylar just celebrated his 6th birthday. He recently graduated from kindergarten, has an abundance of friends, and loves to play NBA Live on his GameCube system.



These milestones would not have been possible without medical advances developed by researchers and without help from Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (FSMA), a nonprofit foundation that supports research and assists families who have a loved one affected by the disease. And that’s why I am asking for your support.



Help Find A Cure



On June 24th, my friend (along with several of his brothers, uncles and friends) will leap into the freezing waters of the San Francisco Bay and swim 1.5 miles from Alcatraz Island to the shores of the city. The swim is part of the “Escape from Alcatraz” triathlon, and the purpose is to raise money for the 3rd Annual Skylar’s Fight.



Together, “Team Skylar” hopes to raise $25,000 for FSMA, and you can support their fundraising efforts by donating to this very worthy cause. I have already made a contribution, and I am hoping you will do the same. As I write this blog, Team Skylar has already received pledges totaling more than $13,000, and any amount you contribute will move them closer to their goal.



Donating online is the quickest and easiest way. Simply, visit www.skylarsfight.com and click on the “Donate Online” link. While there, you can also learn more about young Skylar and his fight to find a cure for this terrible disease.



You can also contribute by phone by calling FSMA headquarters at 1-800-886-1762. Or, you can send a check to Families of SMA, P.O.196 Libertyville, IL 60048. (If you send a check, please send it to the attention of “SKYLAR’S FIGHT – Escape from Alcatraz.”)



All contributions are tax-deductible, and 96% of all money donated goes directly to research or patient services (FSMA is a very efficient nonprofit).



There’s no greater feeling than making a difference in the life of a child -- especially one who truly needs your help.



Thank you for your support,



Yana



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