Brittany Wilkinson passed away from mitochondrial disease on September 6, 2009 at the age of 18. She was the First Youth Ambassador for UMDF and the most courageous and caring teenager you could ever know. She inspired everyone she met leaving a hand print on each heart. Britt and her service dog, Freedom, won the affection of many people including legislators.
Brittany had three confirmed life-threatening mutations of her mitochondrial DNA that left her with no energy and pain that often landed her in the hospital for extended periods.
During one seven-week hospital stay, she had to decide to give up or do something to help – she chose the latter. She continued to fight a difficult battle, all the while using what little energy she had to improve the lives of affected individuals by increasing awareness and raising money for research.
To honor Brittany, the Wilkinson family of Clovis, California established the Brittany Wilkinson Research Fund. Through the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF), money donated to this fund goes to research in Brittany’s name.
The UMDF was formed by families affected by mitochondrial disease. Like the Wilkinson family, the UMDF founders wanted to help others affected by the disorder. The Foundation provides support to families and funds medical research for mitochondrial disease.
Mitochondria produce more than 90 percent of the body’s energy. When these tiny parts of the cell can’t do their job, the body doesn’t get the energy it needs, resulting in a wide range of debilitating and sometimes fatal symptoms. Each year, up to one in 2,000 children will develop a mitochondrial disease by age 10. Most of these affected children will not survive beyond their teenage years.
Through research, the medical world will one day have the resources to help children like Brittany win the battle against mitochondrial disease. Until then, please help the Wilkinson family and the UMDF “redefine hope” for everyone affected by mitochondrial disease through a donation to the Brittany Wilkinson Research Fund.