Ayla Charness goes to school everyday wearing a helmet. At 9-years-old, she plays piano, swims, dances ballet, and can tell you anything you ever wanted to know about Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (or ITP), the autoimmune disease she lives with everyday.
ITP is marked by significant destruction of platelets, the body's clotting agent, and is the reason Ayla must wear her helmet to school. While most people have platelet levels of 150,000-400,000 per microliter of blood, Ayla's body was producing just 5,000 at the time of her diagnosis. As a result, she was not able to heal herself from even the tiniest cuts and bruises.
"Most kids get to do what they want, and don't understand why I have to wear my helmet. People ask me why, and sometimes look at me strange," Ayla said.
"We went around her first grade class and explained what ITP was," Ayla's father, Jay Charness, says. "The very first day at school it was a nightmare because as a parent you kind of wait for your kids to fall, and you fear for them."
One day Ayla says, if her ITP goes away, she'd love to play dodgeball, baseball, or basketball.
"Not really great sports for her right now," her father chuckles.
Currently there is no cure for ITP, but that doesn't keep Ayla and her family waiting on the sidelines. For now, Ayla's condition is treated with continuous blood transfusions, which means lots of time at The Denver Children's Hospital.
This week Alice 105.9 is hosting its 10th annual 36 Hours for Kids radiothon fundraiser in an effort to raise at least $1 million for The Children's Hospital. Alice will be broadcasting live from the hospital lobby, sharing stories like Ayla's and encouraging call-in donations.
Dates and times for the 36 Hours for Kids broadcast:
When: February 16-18 all day
How: Call 1-800-458-KIDS during the event, or donate $10 by texting MIRACLE to 27722.
Listen to Ayla Charness's story:
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