Saturday is Frankfort’s opportunity to help Zach Pickard’s family raise funds for research to continue the toddler’s battle to beat the odds and stay alive.
Zach has progeria, an ultimately fatal non-inherited genetic disease. According to his mother, Tina Pickard, there’s no cure and only research may discover a drug that can either fight or eliminate the disease.
Zach was diagnosed when he was 14 months old. Depending on the disease’s progression, most children don’t live past their teens.
A $5 pancake breakfast is on tap Saturday from 7:30 until 10 a.m. at Applebee’s, U.S. 127 south. A silent auction of items supplied by Frankfort merchants will run during breakfast.
Zach’s aunt helped organize it.
“We are grateful to Applebee’s and all the businesses who supplied gift items,” Kristin Pickard said.
A 2008 fundraiser at Applebee’s raised $3,800.
“Oh, yes, Zach will be there,” Zach’s mother said. “He’s a lively 3-year-old. He is not aware of his disease; he just knows he looks different.”
The disease includes symptoms such as loss of body fat and hair, growth failure, aged-looking skin and – the most threatening – atherosclerosis, heart disease and stroke. Progeria is caused by progerin, an abnormal protein.
All proceeds will benefit ongoing progeria research at Boston Children’s Hospital, where Zach is already considered a pioneer in the medical research field.
In March 2009, five children, ages 2-3, participated in a one-month feasibility study to determine if there’d be side effects from three drugs taken together and if they were tolerable.
The progeria research team at Boston Children’s Hospital added two drugs, pravastatin and zoledronate, to the current treatment that includes FTI.
Zack was one of those five and his photo is featured on the national progeria Web site.
The results were positive, paving the way for the full, two-year, Triple Drug Trial to enroll up to 45 children from 19 nations with progeria – a one-case-in-a-million disease.
As a result, that’s where Zack heads every six months along with his mother and father, Brandon Pickard. The hospital estimates the trial will cost more than a million dollars and relies on parents to help with costs through events like Saturday.
The latest theory is that a three-drug cocktail may slow the body’s response to the disease.