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Family Bonds: Fund-raising for Muscular Dystrophy

When it comes to healthcare, it’s all in the family for the Olmstead sisters. Three of the five sisters and one sister-in-law have all worked for NorthBay Healthcare at one time or another, in different fields.

There’s Peggy (Olmstead) Acosta, a clinical nurse for NorthBay Medical Center; Mary Olmstead Quinn, a neonatal intensive care unit nurse; and Alice Olmstead Cole is a food services worker in the nutrition department. With that kind of family synergy, it’s no surprise that the Olmstead sisters would team up to meet a challenge when personal crisis struck their family.

Two of Peggy’s nephews have been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), which primarily affects boys and is inherited through their mothers. DMD is a degenerative disease of the voluntary muscles that is characterized by general weakness and muscle wasting, first in the hips, pelvic area, thighs and shoulders. Eventually all muscles, including the heart and lungs, are affected.

When the family learned of the second nephew’s diagnosis about seven years ago, they felt helpless and frustrated, but quickly turned those emotions into action. “We brainstormed ideas and decided to come up with a fund-raising event for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA),” Peggy explains.

They organized a spaghetti dinner and 50/50 raffle and held it at the family’s church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Fairfield. Every family member – including Peggy’s in-laws from Merced – turned out to help cook, serve and clean up. That first year’s work netted a $4,000 donation. Last year, they raised almost $9,000 and Peggy hopes they can reach the $10,000 mark with this year’s event, which will be Sept. 11, 2009.

Every year, the family delivers the proceeds from the spaghetti dinner to the MDA at its annual Muscle Walk fund-raising event, which is typically held in Sacramento in late September.

Anyone interested in purchasing tickets for this year’s dinner – which should be available in August – can contact Acosta at pacosta@sbcglobal.net.

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