A handful of celebrities, social media influencers and now hundreds of local business owners and community members have joined in to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to save a Santa Clarita boy’s life.
Newhall resident Damian Markham, who turned 2 in May, is in a fight for his life — and against the clock — in battling a fatal disease known as Niemann Pick Disease, a sickness that has been likened to “Baby Alzheimer’s.”
In the past few weeks, and within only a couple of months of his diagnosis, Markham’s parents, Brittany and Brock, have utilized a network of friends, family and fellow church members church to not only pursue a cure for their grandson — and the five to 10 other children in the United States with Niemann Pick — but also to spread awareness about the disease’s deadly effects.
In addition to starting a GoFundMe, the two parents shared their story with local media outlets and residents. Before long, actress Amanda Seyfried — known for her roles in “Les Miserables,” “Mamma Mia” and “Mean Girls” — was sharing Damian’s story on her social media.
Seyfried’s castmates, TikTok star Youth Pastor Ryan and other influencers were sharing the story as well, and before long Damian’s GoFundMe fundraiser was receiving donations from across the country and around the world.
“In total, we are at about $535,000,” said Brittany Markham, referencing both the GoFundMe and what she’s received directly on Venmo. “And they’re mostly donations of less than 20 bucks. It’s just people showing up and sharing it with their friends.”
“If we can do this without being a financial burden on anyone, it would mean so much to me,” she added. “It’s just amazing the power of community.”
The Markhams have teamed up with the Wylder Nation Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to accelerate the discovery and development of treatment options for children with Niemann Pick Disease. The money raised, the young couple said, will go toward the foundation and two potentially promising treatments that are on the horizon but are desperately in need of funding to speed up the timeline and clear the pathway to a clinical trial.
The parents have said that the treatments could potentially save Damian’s life; but without either treatment, or any other leap forward in research, the disease could prove fatal to their son by the age of 5.
“We certainly are in a time crunch just because Damian’s disease is not stopping, it’s still progressing, and there is a lead time from the time we get the money,” said Brittany. “Getting the money is not going to save Damian’s life; it’s spending the money.”
She has said researchers believe — and it is her fundraising goal — that $4 million to $5 million will put them possibly over the edge in terms of their research.
In an effort to support the family, a number of vendors teamed up with Aloha All Ways with Lani to host the Aloha All Ways Multi-Vendor Event this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 26027 Huntington Lane. Raffle tickets will be sold during the event to help support the fundraiser.
For more information on the Aloha All Ways multi-vendor event, visit the event page at https://fb.me/e/QBoyagFD.
For more information about Damian’s GoFundMe or to donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/please-save-damian?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer.
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