David Broyles Staff Reporter
September 12, 2013
CK Technologies has announced it will hold its second OMS Teddy Bear Drive beginning Friday. According to Jennifer Ault, drive coordinator, the event will run through Oct. 18 with toys and bears delivered to Brenner Children’s Hospital on Oct. 25.
Ault said this year’s drive will benefit not only the Children’s Hospital but the OMS Research Foundation. She became involved with the effort when a relative, Alexa Jennings, the daughter of her cousin, Becky Jennings, was diagnosed with the disease in 2009.
OMS is the acronym for Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome which affects one in 10 million children under the age of five.
Prevailing thought on the disease theorizes it could be a result of a child’s immune system trying to battle a tumor but instead attacks the brain. There is no cure for the disease and so few in the medical community are familiar with it that diagnosis is typically a long process.
The national drive collected 3,500 items which were delivered to 32 hospitals in nine states and raised 443,000 for OMS research. Nationally, the drive is in its fifth year. Ault’s uncle, Mike Michaelis, as well as Alexa’s parents, Brooks and Becky Jennings, were inspired by the young girl’s request to give some of the toys she had received to other sick children who hadn’t been given any toys.
“We are the only such drive I know of for this in North Carolina,” said Ault. “Last year the local effort raised $1,350 for foundation research and 165 bears, toys and games were collected. This is a big thing because it (OMS) is so rare. We have to get the word to the medical community as well so more are aware of the disease.”
She said the Children’s Hospital has even decided to schedule the toys and bears collected to help as many of its young patients as it can.
“Children with OMS tend to spend a lot of time in the hospital,” explained Ault. “Alexa received a lot of toys from the family and wanted to give some of hers to the other children that didn’t have any. She was 1-and-a-half years old at the time.”
Ault praised her coworkers for their support of the annual drive. She said the firm’s triple bottom line philosophy emphasizes the importance of profits but not at the cost of people or harm to the environment.
“CK Technologies has jumped whole-heartedly into this,” Ault said. She stressed that because the toys and stuffed animals go to sick children, they have to be new. Locations where the toys may be dropped off include CK Technologies, Rainbow Childcare’s Piedmont Triad West location off McKinney Road in Mount Airy and Hot Headz Salon in King.
She said cash donations are accepted during and after the drive and go to the OMSLife Foundation. This group’s goals are to raise awareness of OMS and to fund research on the disease. According to Ault, Alexa has been in remission from OMS for more than two months and has been allowed to stop a treatment program of shots she has been on for four years.
“She got to start kindergarten this year,” said Ault. “That’s something we thought we’d never see and it has been made possible by things like this drive. OMS can come back at any time because although it is treatable there is no cure. You just never know.”
Persons who would like more information about the drive and the OMSLife Foundation may contact Ault at 336-786-2642, extension 7657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.