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Sue Guinn Legg

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Child from Gray fights rare condition, reaches unexpected birthday

June 7th, 2014 10:53 am by Sue Guinn Legg

Child from Gray fights rare condition, reaches unexpected birthday

R.J. Morelock

R.J. Morelock was not expected to live to enjoy the celebration of his first birthday, happening today at his home in Gray.

But R.J. is a fighter, and to honor the victory of his one-year milestone, the Morelock family is inviting all his friends and supporters and others who want to learn about the rare neuro-muscular condition that put him on life support within a few months of his birth to drop in for his birthday party and see what a happy baby he is.

“R.J. fights every day. We fight everyday,” his mother, Crystal Morelock, said.

Born June 7, 2013, with the rare genetic condition known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1, R.J. has been on a ventilator since August and also depends on an intravenous feeding tube and 24-hour in-home nursing.

His birthday party will begin at 10 a.m. on the Morelocks’ lawn at 135 Chapel St., located just off Old Gray Station Road near the Appalachian Fairgrounds. But because of his low tolerance for heat and his susceptibility to infections of all types, R.J. will make only a brief appearance.

He will be outside for no more than 15 minutes and his share of his cake and ice cream will be limited to just a taste swabbed across his lips. R.J. cannot swallow but he enjoys tastes so long as his mouth is thoroughly cleared afterward.

Gifts are not requested but for those who feel inclined, size 3 diapers and baby wipes tend to run out quickly in the Morelock home.

While the party may be brief, members of the local Defenders Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club will cruise in to add their good wishes and are inviting other bike enthusiasts to join them for a benefit ride afterward to help the Morelock family with medications not covered by insurance and other expenses related to R.J.’s care.

The ride will begin at 11 a.m. at the Gray Volunteer Fire Department, located adjacent to the fairgrounds on Ruritan Road. The ride’s entry fee will be a donation.

For others who wish to help the family, Sandy and Rick Timbs, of Elizabethton, are avid supporters of the special infant and his family and maintain a running list of R.J.’s incidental needs at their “2 Bucks 4 RJ” page on Facebook.

The list includes diapers and wipes, sterile Q-Tips, liquid baby laundry detergent, garbage bags, anti-bacterial wipes and a helium tank to blow up Mylar balloons used in R.J.’s therapy. Donation pickups can be scheduled as needed at area Walmart stores by messaging Sandy and Tim on their Facebook page.

Updates on R.J.’s progress are posted daily at the Morelock family’s Asking for Prayers for R.J. Morelock page on Facebook page.

Monetary donations help the family may be to the Ronnie John “R.J.” Morelock account at any Eastman Federal Credit Union location, or by mail to R.J. Morelock, in care of Crystal and Henry Morelock, P.O. Box 9161, Gray, TN 37615.

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