MASON CITY — Hundreds of people turned out Saturday for “Hayden’s Hope,” an event to raise funds to find a cure for Friedreich’s Ataxia and for treatment for a 9-year-old Mason City boy who has it.
Hayden Despenas, son of Sara and Dana Despenas, has been diagnosed with the rare genetic neurodegenerative disease. Funds raised Saturday will be given for research and to help Hayden participate in clinical trials that could have a profound impact on the progression of the disease.
“It’s amazing,” said Rosanne Pals, a volunteer at the event that included live and silent auctions, live band, children’s carnival in Central Park, bake sale on the Plaza and food vendors, in addition to sprints for children 12 and under and 10K and 5K runs for adults.
Medals were given to top runners and to all sprint participants. An estimated 300 runners participated.
Sara Despenas, Hayden’s mother, called it “a great day.”
“I am just overwhelmed,” she said.
The event started out small and grew as more and more people came forward to help, Despenas said.