Editor:

On February 5, four month-old Wyatt Baladez was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which is a rare but terminal genetic disease that affects the way the neurons in his spine communicate with his muscles. He has what is called Type I SMA, which is the most aggressive form of the disease. It causes severe and progressive muscle weakness, which can lead to breathing and eating problems in the future. Wyatt’s mental capacity will not be affected, but he will never walk and likely will never be able to sit up. Fifty percent of the children diagnosed with SMA before 6 months of age do not make it to their second birthday.

Wyatt is currently on oxygen and suction, and he will be undergoing surgery to implant a G Tube, a permanent feeding tube, on March 13. Wyatt’s parents, Julesburg High School graduates Freddi and Desiree Baladez, are facing mounting medical expenses in order to meet Wyatt’s current medical needs and provide for future care.

In order to help defer some of the current and future expenses that Wyatt’s family will be facing, a benefit dinner and silent auction will be held Saturday, March 29, from 4-7 p.m. at the Hippodrome Arts Centre at 215 Cedar Street in Julesburg. A t-shirt fundraiser has also been created at https://www.booster.com/wyattbaladez. All proceeds from the benefit and t-shirt sales will go directly to supporting Wyatt’s medical care.

Donations may also be made by visiting any Points West Bank branch and depositing money to the Wyatt Baladez Fund. Donations may also be mailed to Freddi, Desiree or Wyatt Baladez at P.O. Box 1580, Wellington, CO 80549. For more information about the benefit and donations, please contact Rachel Monserrate at 307-638-8045.

SMA is the #1 genetic killer of children under two years of age. The nonprofit organization, Families of SMA, provides information and support to families affected by SMA, and also funds research to help find treatments and a cure. For more information, go to FSMA.org.

Rachel Monserrate

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