Brooke Dawn, Great Falls resident and Oakcrest School student, had much to celebrate with her parents on Feb. 16 at a Kawasaki Disease “From Your Heart to Theirs” event in La Jolla, Calif., where she and her family were honored. It was hosted by Rady’s Children Hospital and the Kawasaki Disease research team from University of California, San Diego. Brooke and her parents, Don and Patty Dawn, have taken up the mantle to spread the word about this little known-severe illness – Kawasaki Disease – that primarily affects young children and infants. It is now the number one way children acquire heart disease. If not diagnosed within a crucial ten day window and administered treatment, some 25 percent of children develop life-threatening abnormalities of the coronary arteries. As Brooke has matured, she has increasingly taken on the mission of spreading the word about Kawasaki Disease, as this timely diagnosis is so crucial. She visited local pediatric practices in the area on Jan. 26, National Kawasaki Disease Day, to hand out pamphlets to remind doctors of the symptoms of this tricky disease. She, along with her parents, visited Capitol Hill in an attempt to obtain a senate resolution codifying the awareness of Jan. 26 as National Kawasaki Disease Day. She has worked as a KD Ambassador, sharing her personal story often through the KD Foundation's efforts and personally talking to KD parents at various events about her experience. She successfully launched an online fundraising site a few years ago, raising $4,000 in small dollar donations. She then motivated her parents to help raise money to fund further research into the disease and to that end they issued a $2.5 million dollar challenge grant through the Macklin Foundation, of which her father serves as president. As they celebrated with researchers and hospital administration at the event, Brooke mingled sharing her story with those in the room and hatching her plan for a “grassroots movement of teens who have survived the disease and together doing community education and outreach.” She, with her family by her side, is dedicated to making a difference in her Great Falls community and the community of Kawasaki Disease families at large.
For more information on the disease, visit kdfoundation.org