Page 16 - South Mississippi Living - February, 2024
P. 16

   story by Lori Beth Susman photos courtesy of Zebra Run for Rare Disease
Registration for the 2024 Zebra Run for Rare Disease is open and already a number of participants have signed up for the popular event that benefits the United MSD Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to finding a cure for rare diseases. The 7th annual run, featuring a 5K and one mile fun run, takes place Saturday, March 2, at Fort Maurepas Park in Ocean Springs.
New at the Zebra Run this year are more family fun activities, medals in various age groups and chip timing for the 5K. There will also be a costume contest, post-event food, fun run finisher medals and race shirts. Along with the in-person event, there is also a virtual race option for those wishing to participate on their own. Individuals can even host their own fundraising event with the new Zebra Run Pop Up Toolkit available online.
United MSD Foundation was started by Ocean Springs resident Amber Olsen after her daughter, Willow Cannan, was diagnosed with Multiple Sulfatase Deficiency in 2016. Today, the Foundation serves families from 18 countries with that number growing, said Sarah Cortell Vandersypen, executive director of United MSD Foundation, who added there has been medical news in MSD research.
“An international team of researchers published a paper late last year that announced two biomarkers for MSD. A
biomarker is a way to objectively measure the disease,” Cortell Vandersypen said. “This was a really critical step for MSD research as any potential therapy for MSD will need to show it’s effective against an accepted biomarker.”
When clinical trials for gene therapy begin, the Foundation
is committed to covering patient travel expenses – one of the reasons the Zebra Run is so important. “We need to raise funds to ensure patients can get to the clinical trials. Every sponsorship, race registration, and donation is reinvested into our mission to cure MSD,” Cortell Vandersypen said.
Dr. George Loukatos is this year’s Zebra Run committee chair, and EXIT Realty Heart Properties is the 2024 presenting sponsor. On March 1, the night before the Zebra Run, EXIT Realty will host the third annual Zebra Fest. Held from 5 to
9 p.m. at Val’s Sports Bar & Grill in Ocean Springs, Zebra
Fest features a silent auction, spaghetti dinner, raffle, live entertainment and more. All proceeds from the Zebra Fest will benefit the United MSD Foundation, with EXIT Realty Corp. International matching funds up to $2,500.
For registration and more Zebra Run event information, visit
Dr. George Loukatos.
 16 | February 2024 | SOUTH MISSISSIPPI Living

   14   15   16   17   18