Run 4 Hope: Friends of family with ill son set up 5K race fundraiser

Published 11:40am Thursday, November 7, 2013

A person’s strength can sometimes be braced by the bonds built through close friendships.
Two days before his sixth birthday at the pediatrician’s office on July 15, then 5-year-old Houston Sides’s initial check up results showed a strong, healthy boy. But when Sides hopped off the exam table, the pediatrician spotted something.
“‘Wow, I’ve never noticed his calves being that prominent before,’” Houston’s mother, Kim Sides recalled in an e-mail.
A simple test of Houston crouching down in a catcher’s position and standing back up revealed a weakening truth.
“‘Classic signs of muscular dystrophy,’” the pediatrician said.
Further examinations removed all doubt, as the 6-year-old was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

Houston Sides
Houston Sides

Found primarily in young boys, DMD emerges when the gene responsible for encoding dystrophin, which protects the body’s muscle cells, has been mutated. With dystrophin absent, DMD rapidly progresses, resulting in significant loss of strength and as the muscle cells are damaged, the weakness begins to affect the heart and lungs.
DMD is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed in children and can affect anyone. Currently, doctors and researchers have developed treatments that can slow down the process, but there is no cure for DMD.
The Sides, along with friends Troy Evans, Chris Kearley, Greg Willis and Jenny Hamilton hope to raise awareness of DMD and speed up the process of finding a cure by generating money with the Hope 4 Houston 5K and 1-mile run Saturday, Nov. 23 at Wetumpka Middle School.

“This is a local Wetumpka, Eclectic family that we’re supporting here,” Hamilton said. “They have two kids, they have an older daughter, and of course, they have Houston, who was diagnosed with Duchenne. So, what we’re doing is we’re trying to raise awareness for DMD.
“I personally had never heard of it before this, and it affects so many young boys, and it weakens their muscles. The money we raise will support the family, but also go toward clinical trials for Duchenne that can help heal their son or at least prolong his life.”
Since Sides’s diagnoses in July, the committee of friends began organizing the event. Hamilton said support thus far has been tremendous and has only been generated by word-of-mouth.
“What we’ve done, we haven’t advertise, but the committee, the three guys myself and his parents, I sent out an e-mail to everyone on my e-mail distribution list, and asked all of them to do same,” said Hamilton. “We set up a Facebook page, and people have responded very well. Its really just been word of mouth through e-mail and Facebook.
“We’ve received tremendous support from this area. We’ve got great sponsors. We’ll end up raising $15,000 from this race before it’s all said-and-done and I think that’s a testament of all the work that we’ve put into this.”
An overwhelming amount of support from the community, coupled with the process of organizing the 5K, has bolstered the Sides and their family.
“The feeling that I get, they just found out in July, I think Kim felt hopeless at the very beginning, and they needed something to be able to do,” Hamilton said. “So this has really given them something to put their energy to. They’re not sitting around like, ‘What am I going to do now.’ I believe this has been very powering for them to do something like this.”
Houston’s father, Scott, came across the Bible scripture Isaiah 40:30-31 a few days after his son’s diagnoses, Kim recalls. It reads: “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Houston’s strength will not be defined by DMD, but refined by the love of bond of his family and friends, along with the community’s willingness to help.
“Anybody can get out to walk a mile for this kid, so we encourage anybody that wants to come out that day to help Houston,”said Hamilton.
Early registration for the run is $25 and $30 the day of the race. Runners can register online at
Mail in registration can be sent to Hope 4 Houston, P.O. Box 700, Wetumpka, AL 36092.

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