NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hundreds of people are gearing up to walk in order to raise awareness for a disease that impacts people from all walks of life.
The MDA Muscle Walk is scheduled for Saturday, May 13 at 11 a.m. at Vanderbilt, and more than $93,000 has been raised so far.
“My grandmother calls me sassy girl because they think I’m sassy,” says Carlee Beam, a third grader in Murfreesboro.
Beam is just like any other 9-year-old. She plays baseball, does cheerleading, loves school, and is full of spirit.
With all of that, you wouldn’t guess she suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy.
“My favorite part about school is the talent show; I like to see all my friends’ talents,” she told News 2.
At 2 years old, Carlee was diagnosed with SMA. Since then, her parents have been determined to give her the same opportunities as anyone else.
“We want her to live the most independent life she can live,” said mother Kelli Beam.
Kelli says Carlee is giving them something to hold onto instead.
“She has just shown us so much more than we would have ever known about life. She has blessed us and we are so grateful for who she is,” she told News 2.
Katie Nanney is her third grade teacher at Overall Creek Elementary. She says Carlee teaches her classmates lessons that textbooks cannot.
“She inspires people because people look at her personality and they think she is so happy, she is so fun, she is so light hearted,” explained Nanney.
Nanney says if you walk the halls of her school, you can see the smiles she brings to everyone.
“When she is not here, it is a difference in my classroom,” the teacher said.
Carlee says MDA Summer Camp brings a smile to her face.
“I had a tour and I really want to go on the zip line,” says Carlee.
Fundraisers like the MDA Muscle Walk pay for kids to go to camp each year and for research of the disease.
“The treatment is to hopefully slow down the progression to where she would have been going in the next few years,” says Kelli.
That is why Carlee is so thankful for everyone who walks to give her strength.