An event held in Southaven on Saturday was a win-win for basketball players, but more so for a young girl whose family wants her to “see the world” and not just the next hospital bed.
Southaven Middle School seventh-grader Destiny White has lived her entire life suffering from what’s commonly called, “brittle bone disease.” The medical term for it is Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or OI.
Destiny has dealt with the disorder that results in fragile bones that will break easily her entire lifetime.
Over the course of Destiny’s life, she has broken more than 100 bones in her little body and is confined to a wheelchair. Emergency hospital visits, especially to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, have become almost too commonplace for her.
Medical experts say the disease is caused by a defect, or flaw, in the gene that produces a Type One collagen, which is a protein used to create bone. The defective gene is usually inherited, although in some cases, a genetic mutation, or change, can cause it.
The desire of Destiny’s family, including parents Marcus and Mildretta White, sister Markeyanna White and brother Kevaunn Johnson, is to get a specially-fitted handicapped van the family can use to travel and go between hospital visits together. The hope is that a summer vacation next year will give them time away from the every day issues Destiny and her family faces.
Saturday a 3-on-3 basketball event was held at Trinity Church, 2101 Colonial Hills Drive in Southaven, which was planned to help kickstart the fundraising toward the purchase of that vehicle, the cost of which is in the $65,000 range, Mildretta said.
The kickstart was a pretty hefty one, as more than $4,200 were raised to go toward to the vehicle purchase.
The basketball component of the event came from Southaven Middle School instructor Kristen Coleman, who is also a basketball coach for the school.
Coleman is Destiny’s science teacher and when she learned about the Whites’ needs shortly after she starting teaching Destiny this fall, Coleman felt basketball could be a help in that regard.
"Every day coming home from school I would have Destiny on my mind, just because I had such a heart for her. I immediately fell in love with her,” Coleman said.
Games were played in Saturday’s event from youth through high school age, but there was a lot more on the agenda, including a basketball shooting competition, T-shirt sales with a design Destiny made for the occasion and a bake sale.
The White family was also surprised by a proclamation from Mayor Darren Musselwhite, who proclaimed Saturday in Southaven as “Destiny White Day.”
Destiny hopes the van will help her get out more.
"With brittle bone disease, I can't really get around as much like my sister can do and I can't really play with the other kids or really enjoy myself,” she said. “Sometimes I have to stay in the house."
Mildretta White said her young girl has seen a lot in her life, but it’s mostly between visits to and from hospitals.
"She used to go to Shriners' Hospital in Shreveport, La., but now she goes to LeBonheur Children's Hospital for her treatments and if she has any broken bones and any major surgeries, LeBonheur is starting to take care of that,” Mildretta said. "She was born in Jackson, Miss. but she’s been going to LeBonheur for the past couple of years for her surgeries and major needs."
The Whites are well aware of what’s ahead for Destiny, and themselves as they do life together. But the van, which would allow Destiny to be lifted inside without someone else doing the lifting, along with other features, will provide the family at least some enjoyment time together without the worry of when the next medical emergency might occur.
"I want to plan a family vacation,” Mildretta said. “That way, we can enjoy going out, looking at scenery, having a good time and have her just be a normal kid. That way, she can feel like she's not being left behind and enjoy every bit of life she has. We're going to grow old together."
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.