The weather is cooling off, but that won’t stop 12-year-old Dominick from enjoying some flag football with his friends in gym class. His bright smile and playful sense of humor make him a joy to be around, but things aren’t always simple.
At just 2-years-old, Dominick was diagnosed with Mitochondrial complex 1 based on testing and a muscle biopsy. Complex 1 is a type of mitochondrial disease that affects energy production in the body’s cells resulting in decreased energy, cell injury, and cell death. The diagnosis creates daily challenges for Dominick and his family.
“Mitochondrial disease affects the powerhouse of the body,” says his mom, Kristen. “Basically, when you eat food, your body takes the food through the ATP cycle and converts it into energy. His body doesn’t create energy the same way as others, therefore his organs are affected because of the lack of energy being produced.”
For Dominick, this lack of energy impacts his muscle coordination and muscle tone, prompting the need for leg orthotics. He is able to walk at school but requires a wheelchair for longer distances. Since Mitochondrial disease can affect any organ system in the body, Dominick struggles in multiple areas. He has bilateral hearing loss and grapples with physical limitations and cognitive difficulties.
“It’s one of those conditions where you can only treat the symptoms,” explains Kristen. “You just treat it and hope it helps. There’s nothing you can do to cure it.”
Despite his health struggles, Dominick still finds ways to enjoy his favorite activities, which include sports and playing games. You can often find him cheering on the Ball State football team as they hit the field, one of his favorite parts of fall. In fact, Dominick signed on as an official member of the Ball State Football team in 2018.
The family came across an A Kid Again booth at a local event and decided to get involved. A Kid Again made it possible for them to enjoy many events. Some of their favorites so far have been the Kings Island and Eagle Marsh adventures.
Kristen also spoke about how A Kid Again allows her to meet many new families in similar situations. As an advocate for children with medical needs, she often shares her experiences and resources with them—which is something she’s very passionate about.
The family’s attitude remains extremely positive as they navigate life with Mitochondrial Disease. “For me, I always think about how it could be a heck of a lot worse,” adds Kristen. “In my career, I’ve worked with many families who have children with profound disabilities that aren’t able to hit the major milestones. Because of this, the way I see our situation is often different from how others view it.”
Their family is grateful for the opportunities A Kid Again has made possible and they’re proud to be part of this great organization.