EVERY YEAR AT THIS TIME THE STARS AND GARY HARTSOCK COME OUT FOR MDA

August 31, 2001 12:00 am
DEDICATED VOLUNTEER: Gary Hartsock talks with Stephannie Medlin of La Grande Thursday during his fund-raising drive for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
DEDICATED VOLUNTEER: Gary Hartsock talks with Stephannie Medlin of La Grande Thursday during his fund-raising drive for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Gary Hartsocks electric wheelchair is broken, but that is not keeping him on the sidelines in his fight against muscular dystrophy.

The La Grande resident is in the middle of his sixth annual fund drive for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Hartsock started his drive on July 1 with a goal of collecting $2,000. He has already raised $1,200. This brings his fund-raising total over the past six years to about $6,200.

Hartsock is out three or four days a week, braving the heat, collecting donations. He is hard to miss because of a large yellow sign he carries with him. The sign explains his

mission.

I want to help find a cure for everyone with muscular dystrophy, Hartsock said Thursday afternoon.

Hartsock suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy called Friedreichs Ataxia.

Hartsock is always accompanied by someone who assists him with his wheelchair. Even when his electric wheelchair is working, Hartsock needs someone to help him get in and out of businesses downtown.

It is hard for him to get in and out of buildings. There are a lot of obstacles, said Hartsocks mother, Janice Byers of Union.

Hartsock has been involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association since 1988. The MDA is dedicated to the eradication of the muscular dystrophies Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrigs disease; Myasthenia Gravis; the spinal muscular atrophies and several other neuromuscular

diseases.

Funds raised by the MDA pay for such things as wheelchairs, leg braces, genetic testing, research, diagnosis and a summer camp for youngsters with neuromuscular disease.

Gary realizes that a cure probably will not be found for him, Byers said. He is hoping for a cure for others in the future.

Muscular dystrophy will be thrust into the national spotlight this weekend during Jerry Lewiss 36th annual national telethon for the MDA. The telethon runs from 6 p.m. Sunday to 5 p.m. Monday.

Hartsock appeared on the telethon several years ago at a television station in Kennewick, Wash.

People who would like to make donations to Hartsocks MDA fund- raising drive can call him at 962-7530 or Byers at 562-6126.

Donations can be mailed to Hartsock at 2005 Gekeler Lane

C-1, La Grande 97850. Checks should be made payable to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.