A Special Plea For Baby Girl Gregg

October 1, 2012

Announcements, News


The thought of death or illness is never pleasant. It is a constant reminder that life is not always the predictable little box we want it to be. Life can be and often is scary. In my 27 years of law enforcement, I can recall numerous experiences when a person left for a routine day at work, only to have their life cut short by a traffic accident.

With no warning and no notice, a person’s life just ended in a mere moment and the devastation that follows is earth shattering. Friends and family gather around in shock and disbelief. A life is here one moment and then taken away the next.

A few weeks ago, a dear friend called and told me of their cancer diagnosis, and the word “cancer” shook me to my core. All of a sudden Eli and the Giants did not matter. It would seem to be a sin to be concerned with trivial matters such as football. When I got off the phone, I wept. The frailty of humanity is cause to reflect and prioritize. And a reminder that suffering is part of the human condition.

Nowhere does this hit the heart of the matter as it does when a child is involved. So, you can imagine my shock and sorrow, when my former Real Story colleague called me about the illness of his three-month old daughter. Kevin and I had not spoken in months, but the solemn tone of our conversation melted any time and wounds we had.

His daughter had been diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the leading cause of infant mortality. The words, at first, pierced my heart. Being the father of two and a grandfather (yes, I am Papa Joe) of one, my thoughts went to my own family and then the horror of what Kevin had just said. Then I realized that he was living the most horrible experience any parent can endure, the possible death of their child.

It is a tragedy I cannot even attempt to fathom. It is too frightening and too utterly impossible to describe. Words do not exist to explain what Kevin and his wife must feel.

From what I can see and read, the clearest explanation of the disease can be found at Wikipedia:

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an incurable autosomal recessive disease caused by a genetic defect in the SMN1 gene which codes SMN, a protein necessary for survival of motor neurons, and resulting in death of neuronal cells in the anterior horn of spinal cord and subsequent system-wide muscle wasting (atrophy).

Spinal muscular atrophy manifests in various degrees of severity, which all have in common general muscle wasting and mobility impairment. Other body systems may be affected as well, particularly in early-onset forms. SMA is the most common genetic cause of infant death.

: 1.Infantile Werdnig–Hoffmann disease 0–6 months The severe form manifests in the first months of life, usually with a quick and unexpected onset (“floppy baby syndrome”). Rapid motor neuron death causes inefficiency of the major bodily organs – especially of the respiratory system – and pneumonia-induced respiratory failure is the most frequent cause of death. Babies diagnosed with SMA type I do not generally live past two years of age, with death occurring as early as within weeks in the most severe cases (sometimes termed SMA type 0). With proper respiratory support, those with milder SMA type I phenotypes, which account for around 10% of cases, are known to live into adolescence and adulthood.

I would not even want to insult our readers and pretend that I even understand most of what was written. All I understand is that there is a father in Jackson, Mississippi with his wife and his other young daughter and they are watching their lives crumble in front of them.

One family is facing a reality that most of us would not care to imagine. With the grim certainty they face, it is easy for a family to forget about the mountain of bills that pile up during this time, but it is the grim reality.

The Real Story will not forget.  From this issue forward, we will shine a light on the cause of the Gregg Family. By the time you read this article a bank account will be set up for the family.  Please make any checks out to “The Gregg Fund.”  No amount is too small or too large for this worthy cause.

Also, we will be asking for donations at “Words and Music”, our monthly open mic night, to be held on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. at Tampico Bay Courtyard Bar (1515 College Street).

If your heart moves you to help, please mail your checks to:

The Gregg Fund
c/o The Real Story
P.O.  Box 403
Columbus, Mississippi

Also send your prayers.  It is the answer the Greggs really need.  Let us all stand as one with this family.

And tonight when you go to bed, don’t fall asleep until you tell those important to you that you love them. You can never say that enough.

Joseph “Big Catfish” St. John

to “the Cracker Jack”


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About The Real Story

The Real Story for the Golden Triangle and North Mississippi. Always the truth... No Compromise. Changing the community one story at a time! You make the news... We keep it Real.

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