- Associated Press - Monday, February 8, 2016

FLORENCE, S.C. (AP) - When heartbreak touches a family, it can be hard to know how to move forward without forgetting or discounting how the event will have an effect for the rest of your life. Two families are taking their pain and are using it to raise awareness about Trisomy 18.

Tracey Braddock and her childhood friend Misty Brown are the organizers of the Trekking 4 Trisomy 5K run/walk, which will be held March 19 at Lynches River County Park. The cause is one close to their hearts.

“Misty and I grew up in the same neighborhood in Florence, and we were childhood friends; she lives in Pawleys Island now with her husband Keith and their six-year-old daughter Camille,” Braddock said. “Both of our daughters had Trisomy 18. We had spoken a few times but we had not seen each other in over 20 years, when my daughter was diagnosed.”

Having someone who understood what her family was experiencing, especially someone the family already knew, was invaluable.

Hannah Brown was born June 7, 2013.

Hope Braddock was born on Dec. 2, 2014.

“All of this has brought us back together and we have kept in contact,” Braddock said. “We talked and decided to organize this because we really wanted a way to honor our girls and to bring awareness to Trisomy 18 because it is not something that is very well-known.”

Braddock said that she herself had not known about Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards Syndrome, before her daughter was diagnosed.

Trisomy 18 is a chromosomal disorder. Instead of developing two 18th chromosomes, inheriting one from the mother and one from the father, the baby develops three. This can lead to many life-threatening developmental problems, including with the kidneys, intestines and the heart. Stillbirths occur in around 30 percent of Trisomy 18 cases.

It is estimated that only five to 10 percent of babies who have Trisomy 18 live past their first birthday.

Braddock said her family, including Hope’s four big sisters, wants this event to help them help others.

“We would much rather have Hope here with us to do this (5K) but it also brings me great joy to be able to plan this event,” Braddock said. “We want to come alongside others who going through the things that we went through and it is a blessing to be able to honor her in that way.”

Proceeds from the event will go toward the Trisomy 18 Foundation to raise awareness, to help fund research into the disease and for advocacy for families affected by it. For more information about Trisomy 18, visit http://www.trisomy18.org/.

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Information from: Morning News, http://www.scnow.com

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