Eleven and a half years ago I met Elizabeth Conte, Mrs. Conte to me. Mrs. Conte was my teacher in kindergarten and first grade, which was when my family first got to know the Conte family. Our families became close over the years. Charlie was born while I was in first grade with Mrs. Conte, and my mom had my little brother just 4 days before Kate was born, so I’ve watched them grow up together. I was just 9 years old when Kate was born, so when she was diagnosed with Myotonic Dystrophy a few months after birth I didn’t fully understand what this diagnosis really meant. I knew that Kate had to go to countless doctor appointments, therapy sessions, and even some hospital visits, but I don’t think I really understood what Kate’s diagnosis entailed until I was in middle school.
When I was in middle school I started looking into Myotonic Dystrophy. I did research online to learn about the short and long term effects of the disorder, the causes of it, and the research that was being conducted. When I was with Kate I saw how Myotonic Dystrophy was affecting her and I knew that there must be something that I could do to join Kate and her family in the fight against Myotonic Dystrophy. My siblings shared this same passion to support Kate, so we brainstormed ideas to help out. I was still fairly young at this time and my siblings are all younger than me, so we were limited in what we could do to help out, but there was one thing we thought of. In the past, my siblings and I had enjoyed doing lemonade stands in our neighborhood, so we decided that we would do lemonade stands and donate the money to Promise To Kate.
It was amazing to see the generosity of others, people who had never met Kate before and had no idea who she was. So many people gave us donations and to this day we still appreciate those donations. What many of these people probably didn’t know was that their dollar was supporting cutting-edge research and therefore they were supporting research that could have a huge impact on someone else’s life. This is when I really started to realize that anyone can contribute to the fight against Myotonic Dystrophy, which is why I became so passionate about Promise To Kate. I knew that I wanted to be a part of this organization in some form or another so that I could help Kate. I couldn’t stand the thought of sitting there and doing nothing to help when Kate, her family, and her friends were all trying so hard to fight the disorder, so I decided that from that point forward I would keep my Promise To Kate.
In 2012, Vickie Holtsman started the Promise To Kate Junior Board. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in fundraising events run by the Junior Board. It was a great way for us kids to have opportunities to help out like we saw our parents doing. I am very grateful to Vickie for starting the PTK Junior Board and giving us these opportunities. These opportunities helped me to realize my passion for the foundation, so when I was given the chance to become Junior Board President I was so excited to use my passion for Promise To Kate to lead the Junior Board. I have really enjoyed being able to get other kids involved with foundation and have seen many kids that are also very passionate about Promise To Kate.
My passion for Promise To Kate has also led me to realize that I want to help out with the research for Myotonic Dystrophy as a career. I am a junior in high school this year, so in about a year and a half I will be heading off to college. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until a few months ago when I decided that I wanted to do something to contribute to the research. I can’t imagine my life without Promise To Kate in it, so I knew I had to do something to stay involved with the foundation. I look forward to helping Myotonic Dystrophy research in any way that I can and I hope that this works out so that I can use my passion for Promise To Kate to make a real difference.
I am passionate about Promise To Kate because I can’t stand the thought of Myotonic Dystrophy controlling Kate. Kate should have the opportunity to enjoy her childhood just like any other kid. Kate is the strongest kid I know, considering all the things she has persevered through in just 7 years. I can’t imagine being faced with everything she has been faced with or remaining strong as a parent through all of this, so I really admire Kate and her family for their strength. I am passionate about Promise To Kate because I have decided that I can’t just stand by and watch them fight against Myotonic Dystrophy. I must join the fight and keep my Promise To Kate.