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Local fundraising event encourages dystonia awareness and support
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · October 5th, 2017

Dogs4dystonia Dog Walk organizer and East Central Iowa Corridor Dystonia Support Group Leader Sheila Killham, 46, was diagnosed with a rare, neurological muscle movement disorder called dystonia several years ago while living in Texas. She said the disease first attacked her vocal cords, then later progressed to her legs, feet, and neck.

Killham said she was first misdiagnosed in Texas by several doctors and therapists who said she could speak if she wanted to, or she was in need of a psychiatrist because it was all in her head. "This is very common for us who face dystonia. I finally had someone diagnose me correctly and after that, my dystonia started affecting some of the other areas of my body. I would have upper eyelid twitches, then twitches in my upper right arm until the right foot started to spasm and moving out to the right and downward." It is "very painful when this happened," she explained.

Three years ago, Killham was finally able to move back to Iowa with her daughter. She is hoping to raise dystonia awareness in Iowa by organizing an annual Dogs4dystonia Dog walk. This year's event is scheduled for this Saturday, October 7, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Thomas Park.

Dogs4dystonia Dog Walk events include a Silent Auction and Raffle, dog costume contests, a free-will food donation table, the walk, Cedar Valley Humane Society, La Bella Pet Spa nail trims, in addition to Pup Lemonade Cones, and Last Hope Animal Rescue (with adoptable pets). The cost for attending is $20 per adult, $12 for children 12 and under. Preregister at "People can come the day of and register but we cannot guarantee t-shirts," Killham said.

Besides the Dogs4dystonia Dog Walk on October 7, Killham said she also hosts a local dystonia support group. The next meeting is scheduled for November 4 from noon to 2 p.m. at St. Luke's on the third floor.
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