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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Haskell


I did it.

I missed my very first UMDF (United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation) Energy for Life Walkathon for my special needs brother Travis, which is held annually in Kansas City, and several other cities throughout the country. Not only did I miss the walk, I hardly advertised, bragged about him, and barely raised any funds this year (THANK YOU to the few that donated, volunteered, and represented Team Travis this year!!!). Now that the event has passed, the guilt has settled in.

I went over to my parent’s house to see him on Sunday, like I do every Sunday, but this Sunday in particular, because I missed his big annual event. The one day of the year -- with the exception of his birthday - which I really didn’t get to celebrate this year either, due to being a full nine months pregnant -- that we celebrate Travis. As of now, he won’t be celebrating any milestone career events, weddings, babies, or all the excitement that comes with those celebrations, so it has always been important to me to make this day extra special for him, and if nothing else, to just be present.

And I missed it. I didn’t promote it. I didn’t attend it. I didn’t fundraise for it. I didn’t wear green all week so people would ask me about it. And more importantly, I did it. I let Travis down.

Travis is non-verbal, so I know you’re thinking... Did he even notice? Will Travis remember? Does Travis even know I wasn’t there? Maybe. Maybe not. But I do.

I showed up on Sunday to see him. I immediately apologized for not being there. He gave me that cute little smirk of his, squeezed and tapped my hand, and I knew everything was alright between us.

But to be honest, Trav had a tough day yesterday. My folks and I sat on the deck for quite some time with him. Most of the time it was quiet just making sure he was okay, in which he was. But dang. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Talk about guilt.

And my folks. They go through so much. Sometimes I forget just how tough they are too. And how tough their days can be. They never even talk about it or mention certain things because it is so normal to them. It is their normal. And you will never hear them complain. Not once. Not ever. But dang.

Talk about guilt.

I should have been there. I let my parents down. I let Travis down. I should have been there.


Today kicks off UMDF Awareness Week.

So I’ll start by passing some of my guilt off to you 😀

Did you know… if every one of my facebook friends donated $5, we could raise almost $10,000 each year. And if each donated $20, we could raise almost $100,000 each year. Talk about finding a cure for mitochondrial diseases!

Seriously though, I really do understand. Not everyone can donate every year - money, time, or participation - nor to every cause; and each of us have those causes and cures close to our hearts that we choose to put our efforts toward. However, we can still show support in other ways.

So this year, I’m asking you to help us out by spreading awareness for UMDF this week. If you need some ideas, here is a short list of things you can do:

Ask us about Travis. Engage when we post about Travis. Talk to Travis. Talk about Travis. Make plans to attend the walk next year for Travis. Ask us about Travis. Hold hands with Travis. Donate to UMDF in honor of Travis. Share a story with someone who doesn’t know Travis. Wear green to show your support for Travis. Ask us about Travis. If all else fails, simply pray for Travis.

When you do any of the above, you are showing your support and raising awareness for UMDF and Team Travis, and for that, I am truly grateful.


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