Our first annual party is just days away and the HC Bryant staff are all so excited to hang out and have a great time with everyone. For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, this Friday, on November 30th, Her Campus Bryant is throwing a party in the Rotunda from 6-8pm. It’ll be a night filled with mingling, mocktails, music, dancing, and raffle prizes! Be sure to look for fliers around campus and check out our Facebook page for details. The proceeds we raise will go towards a disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and I’m here to tell you a little bit about it.

I realize that Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) isn’t a common, well-known disease, which is why I’m going to share some facts to inform everyone of this illness. SMA affects 1 out of every 6,000 people, including me. It is a motor neuron disease that causes muscle weakness in areas involving walking, swallowing, and breathing. Oftentimes, those who are diagnosed with this disease at birth don’t live past the age of 2 and a 1/2, making SMA the number one genetic killer in babies. The level of severity from this disease ranges from person to person, and can be classified into four types. Type I is the most severe form of this disease where people experience difficulties in walking, breathing, head and neck control, and are often susceptible to illnesses such as pneumonia. On the other hand, type IV is the least severe form, and only occurs in individuals 35 years old and on.

What may be surprising to many of you is that 1 out of every 40 people are genetic carriers of SMA. That’s more common than you think. Being a genetic carrier doesn’t necessarily mean you have the disease, just that you carry the mutated gene known as SMN1. Both parents must possess the SMN1 gene in order for their child to be affected. If that’s the case, the probability of a child inheriting SMA is 25%.

SMA may be a debilitating disease, but it doesn’t stop us from living life to its fullest. We may go through many trials and tribulations, but in the end it only makes us stronger than we were before. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last 22 years it’s to never give up hope even in the darkest of times, and I’m sure those inflicted with SMA would agree with me. Hope is what holds us together. It keeps us moving forward, knowing that there’s something better
for our futures. With every day that passes, scientists are one step closer to finding a cure, and the SMA population is growing incredibly hopeful.

Twenty years ago, doctors hardly knew what SMA was. The only diagnosis they could give was to go home and wait
for the devastating inevitable. However, times have changed and breakthroughs have been made. With a little help from our community, we can conquer this disease. Trials have begun to effect and scientists are growing more optimistic by the minute. Big strides in research and funding have been made with this disease, and even bigger strides are about to occur.