FRAMINGHAM — Before he reached puberty, Dick Wyman suffered about 20 broken bones.
His daughter, Christine Wyman Rossi, fractured her femur while in her mother’s womb, followed by about 20 more fractures while in her childhood. Wyman’s grandson, Jack, broke two legs when only 4 weeks old.
The Wyman family suffers from a mild form of osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a brittle bone disorder. About 30,000 American suffer from the disorder. In severe cases – most often fatal – children break bones simply by rolling over.
For his 25 years of work to help find a cure, the OI Foundation recently presented Wyman with the 2008 Thelma Clack Lifetime Volunteer Award.
“Receiving this award was very special – more special than any other recognition,” said Wyman. “It’s very personal – trying for the greater good, for my kids, and their kids.”
To achieve his goal to help find a cure for the genetic disorder that affects the body’s ability to make strong bones, Wyman volunteered tirelessly for the non-profit.
Offering his finance acumen, he served on the board of directors, led sessions at numerous national conferences and worked with his family’s major fundraiser, Making Strides for OI.
At the 5th Annual Massachusetts “Making Strides for OI” Walk-a-thon, Silent Auction and Family Fun Day scheduled for tomorrow, a member of state Sen. Karen Spilka’s office plans to present Wyman with the award. The Legislature declared Saturday to be Osteogenesis Imperfecta Day.
Wyman was also recently nominated to help review proposals for medical research in Washington.
Professionally, Wyman is president and owner of multiple preschools, including The Kiddie Lodge in Framingham, as well as real estate trusts in Greater Boston. His wife, Mary Ellen, is principal of St. Tarcisius School in Framingham.
The national OI foundation evolved over time, raising $75,000 for research grants in the early ’90s to a whole new level.
“Conservatively today, the foundation allocated four times that amount for research grants,” said Wyman. “Researchers are optimistic a cure is not just a dream anymore.”
Wyman’s other daughter, Michelle Potorski, diagnosed with a less severe form of OI, suffered four fractures and her daughter, Siena, one. But the parents, know how easily Siena can break another bone and ask her to be careful when playing – not an easy task.
Wyman remembers doctors advising him as a child not to ride a bike or play sports.
“With all my friends as athletes, that was a tough pill to swallow,” said Wyman.
Wyman recalls meeting a Framingham woman after doctors diagnosed her infant daughter with Type 2 – the most severe form of OI.
“The baby’s bones are so fragile, the lungs collapse and they don’t live long,” said “In the case of that child, she died within weeks. You feel for them. You do your best to explain it. You don’t want them to give up hope.”
Tomorrow’s fundraiser will be filled with hope.
The festivities will include live music by Huck, food from Oliva’s Market and the Framingham Bakery, face painting, balloon animals, games and prizes for children and a silent auction.
In the last four years, Making Strides for OI has raised more than $300,000 to help change the lives of those living with the disorder. All are invited to the event to raise money to help find a cure.
The walk, silent auction and family fun day is tomorrow from noon to 4 at Bowditch Field in Framingham.
For more information on the event, visit http://www.walkforoi.org. To make a donation, make a check payable to Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation, and send it to Making Strides for OI, c/o Christine (Wyman) Rossi, 20 Forest Ave., Framingham, MA 01702.
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