Charcot-Marie-Tooth, referred to as CMT, became my life in 2nd grade when I was diagnosed. The doctor explained that the effects would be loss of muscle mass and sensation in my body. Over the years, I experienced many difficulties, like slowly losing my ability to run, or even things as small not being able to wear the majority of shoes due to deformities in my feet. Out of all of the major complications of CMT, the most difficult part was the fact that even though CMT is the most common neurological disease, which affects 1 person in every 2,500 people, no one seemed to know what it was.
With that being said, when I enrolled at Martin Methodist College, I felt like I had an opportunity to spread awareness for Charcot-Marie-Tooth and, being a work study within the Martin Serves! program, the opportunity to do so was made available. In September 2016, Martin Methodist became the first college to have an awareness event for CMT. We stationed a booth outside of the Johnston center, MMC’s main academic building, in September- also known as National CMT Awareness Month. This plan may seem small, but our actions had major ripples in the CMT community and has raised expectations for other colleges and universities. This awareness event quickly inspired Penn State to do a fund raising walk to raise awareness for Charcot-Marie-Tooth!
Our booth was meant to accomplish two tasks. First, we had information about the disease to help educate the campus community and answer questions about the disorder. In efforts to grab folks attention, we handed out stress zebras, bracelets, and introduced an online challenge to win a shirt. The challenge promoted students to wear blue and post a photo of themselves on social media using #1in2500 to help spread awareness across the country. I hope that we are able to continue this effort going forward, thanks to Martin Methodist College, Martin Serves!, and specifically Brandie Belcher -the sky is the limit!
-Written by Thomas Sarver, Sophomore from Hermitage, TN