GUILDERLAND: Illness inspires family to help others

The Thomas Patrick Morrison Foundation, which was started by Guilderland residents Carmelina and Tim Morrison to honor their son, who died on Jan. 20, 2006, from a very rare genetic disorder, is holding its second annual golf classic on Wednesday, Sept. 19.

The event, to be held at the Orchard Creek Golf Course in Altamont, is an 18-hole scramble golf tournament with more than 100 golfers expected to participate. The family is hoping to raise $25,000 for the foundation to assist others who are suffering from rare genetic diseases and disorders.

The event will be hosted by News Channel 13 sports director Roger Wyland, and each golfer will get a complimentary fleece emblazoned with the foundation logo, as well as lunch, dinner and an opportunity to win individual and team tournament prizes.

A mysterious condition

Nearly two years ago, doctors had some serious news for the Morrisons.

Thomas Patrick, their second child, who was born Oct. 23, 2005, at St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, had a low temperature and significantly low blood sugar levels, signs of a possible illness.

After several tests performed shortly after he was born, doctors began to suspect that Thomas had a mitochondrial disease.

When they told us that, we looked at them like, 'I have no idea what you're talking about,' said Carmella Morrison.

The Morrisons, who also have a 4-year-old daughter, were sent to Albany Medical Center Hospital, where medical staff was able to test for mitochondrial and other genetic disorders.

Mitochondrial and metabolic medical conditions, which are collectively known as "mitochondrial cytopathies," include more than 40 different identified diseases that have different genetic features. Often, with this type of disease, the mitochondria, which are like engines within the body's cells, are unable to completely burn food and oxygen in order to generate energy.

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