Her son was diagnosed with a rare childhood disease and now she’s running to raise awareness
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ASHTON – A Texas woman participating in the Mesa Falls marathon near Ashton Saturday is on a mission to run a marathon in every state over the next three years.
Michele Rector began running five years ago after the last of her children left home for college. She completed her first marathon in her hometown of Houston in 2016. Rector tells EastIdahoNews.com she originally was running for enjoyment, but later decided to do something more important with her marathons.
“If I’m going to run all 50 states, then I want to run for a cause. I told my sister and she said ‘What about Perthes? You’ve always wanted to do something for that. I said, ‘That’s a great idea!,'” Rector says.
Rector’s youngest son Graham was diagnosed with a rare childhood disease at age 8 called Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease. The disease causes disruption to the blood supply in the top of the thighbone in the hip. As a result, the bone cells become porous and die and the muscle begins to waste away.
After several years, the bones reharden but it’s misshapen and is never the same again. Many people experience pain in the hip, limping and reduced range of motion. Arthritis is a common ailment later in life for people with the disease.
“For a year and a half, Graham was on crutches. Then he was put in an A-frame brace fitted to his hips and his thighs,” Rector says.
Graham is now a fourth year medical student at Texas A&M and can walk unassisted, but he is unable to do any high impact exercise, like running or jumping.
“He has a little bit of a limp and will eventually have hip replacements,” Rector says. “He will have arthritis.”
Rector’s new purpose is to run for kids who can’t.
Since beginning this journey, she’s met more than a dozen kids impacted by this disease and she says it’s a thrill to help raise awareness of it and show those impacted that they’re not alone.
“You do get to the other side and there’s people out there for those who have been through it, and there’s people trying to do things for it,” says Rector. “I’m hopefully giving hope to parents of kids who are newly diagnosed and in the throes of everything.”
The Mesa Falls Marathon got underway early Saturday morning and is Rector’s 21st marathon. She is hoping to raise $50,000 for research to help improve outcomes and discover its cause.
“Without knowing what causes something, you don’t know how to fix it,” says Rector. “It’s not a life-threatening disease, like leukemia or juvenile diabetes. But it is a debilitating disease that doesn’t get much government funding.”
You can help support Rector in her cause by making a donation here. Be sure to put “50 by 60” in the comment section of the donation page so it will go directly to the International Perthes Study Group in Dallas, Texas.
Following Saturday’s marathon, Rector is scheduled to run in six marathons through the end of January, including one in Wisconsin, Missouri, Arizona, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Louisiana. She is 56 and is hoping to complete her goal by her 60th birthday.
Follow her along the journey by visiting the Run 50 by 60 for Perthes Facebook page.