There is awareness increased everyday for most of the major diseases that affect people in this country. But some diseases are not as well-known. Their awareness falls by the wayside because people have not heard about these sicknesses and don't know the horrors they afflict on Americans each year. One of these diseases is Mitochondrial Disease, something that occurs in about one in every 4,000 births annually.
To help raise awareness and research money for this heretofore incurable disease, a Forsyth family is putting on the second annual Music for Megan benefit concert Sept. 27, honoring their five-year old daughter who suffers from Mitochondrial Disease. The Sheridan family had a successful event last year that drew approximately 1,200 to Wills Park last year and raised in the neighborhood of $60,000 for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.
But this year, the expectations are even higher.
"I hope we can have double the turnout as last year," Megan's mother, Laura Sheridan said. "It was so amazing last year, but we want it to get even better."
Fittingly, this year's event falls on the last day of the first ever Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week in Georgia, which begins Sept. 20. Laura said it was purely coincidental, but hopes it will give even more of an impact to the show.
This year's concert will be similar to last year's, taking place at Wills Park with music from Todd Fields' band, a popular mainstay at North Point Community Church. While they specialize in Christian music during their worship services, most of the night they will demonstrate their wide range of covers – everything from Van Halen to John Mayer to even a country tune or two.
But at Laura's request, the evening will end with several worship songs by the band, meant to inspire hope for those at the show that a cure can one day be found.
"We want people to know that they're not alone, that they can get things done through peace and strength," she said. "Hopefully they can leave with the thought that God is bigger than all of this and offers a way for people to deal with this."
Also on hand will be a slew of activities to make children of all ages happy, including pony rides, inflatable moonbounces and arts and craft activities like spin art and a hair spray painting booth. Laura said that the biggest cost they endure is the venue and stage, that most everything else is donated through the goodwill of those supporting the cause.
Several children with the disease will speak on stage, including 12-year old Emily Swinn, who will read a poem she wrote, and Tyler Avery, who will address the crowd on what it is like to have the disease.
Vendors like The Varsity, Shane's Rib Shack and Bruster's Ice Cream will be there to satiate the hunger of those in attendance.
Megan is a very happy child, her mother said, but the effects of the disease are still immediately apparent to anyone who sees her. She must wear a feeding tube at all times, and she also faces severe acid reflux, slow growth, sensory dysfunction, a compromised immune system and significant developmental delay.
But, her mother says that her daughter enjoys her special education classes at Matt Elementary and her new passion is playing on her all-special needs soccer team.
"We're just hoping that one day we can find a cure to this terrible disease because many people do not know about it but it can have tragic results for those with it," Laura Sheridan said.
For more information about Music for Megan, and to purchase tickets, visit www.musicformegan.com.