by Sue Ann Rybak, Associate Editor

This summer the community rallied to reunite two lost dogs with their owners after the Local ran two stories on our website and Facebook page about the dogs. In the first story, a golden retriever was found in July at the Chestnut Hill Newsstand. Shortly after the story was posted, the dog was reunited with its owners.

In August, a young dog named Truman was lost on Germantown Avenue. Again, the Local ran a story about the missing dog and posted a video made by Brian Rudnick of Truman’s owners handing out fliers. With the help of the community, Truman was eventually found after nearly a week and was reunited with his owners.

In an editorial, Pete Mazzaccaro wrote about the increased traffic the stories generated on the Local’s website, noting that unlike other stories we run, these stories provided an opportunity for residents to get involved and make a difference in the outcome.

“…Not only is a lost dog an innocent in distress, the fact that it might be found and returned to its owner is a story that people really feel they can influence and be a part of,” Mazzaccaro wrote.

Chestnut Hill has a long history of uniting to have a positive impact on people’s everyday lives, and that is the reason I decided to write this editorial.

Last year, I wrote an article about two Erdenheim boys with a very rare form of progeria called mandibuloacra dysplasia. In fact, Nathan and Bennett Falcone are the only two children in the United States with this rare form of progeria. Unfortunately, because the disease is so rare there are no nationwide or major corporate events to raise funds for a cure, nor are there pink or red ribbons to raise awareness about the disease. And some people may justify that by the fact it only affects about one in six million children.

Who cares about the life of one child – compared to the millions affected by the “big C” – cancer? We should care, not only because every life is precious, but because children with progeria are genetically predisposed to premature, progressive heart disease, and heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.

And thanks to the Progeria Research Foundation and increased media attention worldwide, great strides are being made to find a cure for the fatal disease that causes 7-year-olds to look like they are 70.

In just 13 years, the Progeria Research Foundation went from knowing almost nothing about the disease to funding the first clinical trials in progeria. But, the clock is ticking.

Phyllis Falcone, Nathan and Bennett’s mother, said, “it’s a race against time to find a cure for them.”

Children with progeria typically die of heart disease when they are 13 years old. Imagine looking into your child’s eyes every day knowing he may die in five years?

There is hope, but Nathan and Bennett Falcone desperately need your help now.

You can give them a fighting chance by attending their annual “Make a Splash Fundraiser” to benefit the Progeria Foundation from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Flourtown Country Club, 150 McCloskey Rd., Flourtown.

Last year, the event had a mediocre turnout. It would be great if the event is packed this year. What better way to wrap up the summer then by enjoying a day swimming and lounging by the pool? So, grab a towel and join my family and me at this fun event. Together we can give the Falcone boys a fighting chance.

Tickets are $15 for adults ($20 at the door) and $10 for kids 2-12 years old ($15 at the door). Purchase tickets at nathanbennett.org. For more information about Nathan and Bennett, or to make a donation, visit facebook.com/nathanandbennett. There will be a silent auction and raffle.