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Local Student Reaching New Heights Raising Money for Research

Updated: Tuesday, October 29 2013, 01:27 AM EDT
CINCINNATI (Angela Ingram) -- A La Salle High School student is reaching new heights and raising money to find a cure for a disease. 

Kelly Palmer will join people from around the country to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  The children all have a disease called Eosinophilic Esophagitis or "EE" for short. 

Kelly Palmer is a energetic student and band member at La Salle.  For the most part he's in good health, but last July he was diagnosed with, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, a disease that affects digestion. 
"What happens is I'm allergic to certain foods.  So when I eat them it causes my through to swell shut and it gives me really bad chest pains.  It causes some kids stuff throw up.  When I first found out it was really difficult because they took me off the eight most common allergies which are like milk, eggs, wheat, soy, all nuts, all fish and then tomatoes.  So it was initially I was like what am I going to eat?"
Initially, doctors put Kelly on medication, but he's since learned to manage the disease. 

His mother, Teresa, says, "With this disease that he has, he hasn't really complained about it, he doesn't sit home and mope about it.  He's kept his grades up." 

Now Kelly and a family friend, Terri Kersey, have decided to climb Kilimanjaro raising awareness about the disease and money for a cure. 

Terri says, "The more that we're spreading the word, the more that we're talking about it, they've never heard of EE.  So to be able to let people know about it and what they can do, five dollars here, five dollars there.  It doesn't take a lot of money ."
20 adults and 10 children who have EE are going to Africa in July.  So far, Kelly and Terri have raised more than $8,000 through fundraisers and networking.  They have a goal of $17,500. 

Kelly has a lot of support from the La Salle community especially the band members.  He says when he's away at band camp they help him figure out what he can and cannot eat and the parents have made special meals that don't interfere with his diet.
Kelly's determined to be happy despite the disease and has words of encouragement to other young people who may be struggling with an illness. 

"If you want to climb mountain then you can go ahead and do that.  Just because you have the disease doesn't mean that it can stop you just have to work past it and show the disease that it's not a charge of you life that you are."

Kelly has a website about his journey and events his team is hosting.  We have a link on our website.  It's under the Red "Get It" button.Local Student Reaching New Heights Raising Money for Research

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