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Buildings glow green for mitochondrial disease awareness

Posted at 6:18 PM, Sep 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-24 20:10:52-04

KANSAS CTY, Mo. — When looking out across Kansas City Saturday night, some may notice an additional color in the sky.

With World Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week coming to a close Sept. 24, buildings are glowing green to show support and honor those fighting for cures and treatments.

“We’re excited that Kansas City is going to be on the map,” said Wendy Melland, who is connected to the cause through her daughter. “People around the world are going to see our beautiful Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Marriott downtown lit up.”

Wendy and her husband Patrick found out their daughter Tricia would be in and out of hospitals when she was in middle school as Tricia has mitochondrial dysfunction.

Years later, they are still looking for the best treatment.

“You really don’t think about it when you go through it because it’s your daughter,” Patrick Melland said. “You put one step in front of the other and you take care of what needs to be taken care of.”

Every 30 minutes, there’s a child born that could develop a mitochondrial disease by age 10. Mitochondrial diseases and dysfunctions can cause muscle failure and hearing loss among a host of other issues.

Tricia is currently in the hospital with a bloodstream infection and parastomal hernia.

Her diagnosis has led her family to become accustomed to traveling across the country for various hospital and doctor visits, which they try to make the most of.

This summer, Tricia rode an alpine slide in Colorado on the way to Los Angeles for appointments.

“We try to keep as high-quality life for Tricia as possible and as normal as possible,” Patrick Melland said.

The Mellands also prioritize happiness. Even though Tricia can’t leave her hospital bed to see the glowing buildings Saturday, her dad bought a cowboy hat for her that lights up with green neon as well as glow sticks for her room.

“We’re fortunate to have a good team of doctors helping our daughter right now and nurses, and don’t forget the respiratory therapists and even the housekeeping is incredible,” Wendy Melland said. “We are so grateful because we couldn’t do it without the help from everyone.”