Kids honor fellow student for Rare Disease Day in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. One Springfield Elementary School is celebrating rare disease day, and they're doing it in honor of one of their own students.

February 28th was officially rare disease day, but because school was called off because of the weather, students and staff at McBride Elementary celebrated today, March 1st.

Students participated in a change drive, raising money for the all inclusive playground they plan to build. It's a playground that kids with rare diseases and other special needs, like Parker Atchley, will be able to use. It's an effort that began when the school lost special needs teacher Nick Hoslter.

Students and staff are celebrating rare disease day in honor of Parker, a kindergartner, who has a rare disease called KIF-1A. It's a degenerative neurological disorder that affects Parker's ability to walk, talk and see.

When Parker was diagnosed, there were only about 30 known cases in the world, and now that number is up to 200. But Parker's specific variation is truly one of a kind, and there is no treatment. He uses a walker to get around and can only say a couple of words at a time.

Another way McBride kids and teachers are honoring Parker is by wearing stripes. A lot of rare disease organizations use the zebra and a "show your stripes" campaign as a way to raise awareness. Parker's mom, Kathryn, is grateful for all the awareness and support.

"We have so much to worry about with Parker's condition; that's always on my mind," says Kathryn Atchley. "So to see McBride really step up and embrace Parker and teach inclusivity at school and welcome him, it really reduces our stress and the weight on our shoulders. So it's very much appreciated."

Parker's mom and other families whose children share Parker's rare condition have started a non-profit, KIF-1A.org, to raise money for medical research. And they're grateful for any efforts that raise awareness for rare diseases.