October 12, 2007
The Friday Flyer Editor
Chip Foose, star of TLC’s popular television series, “Overhaulin’,” learned how to fix things at a very young age when he went to work in his dad’s auto repair shop in Goleta, California. Chip and his father, Sam Foose, a resident of Canyon Lake, have been named to numerous Halls of Fame for their work designing and building cars.
Yet, the heartbreak of their lives was that they couldn’t fix Chip’s sister, Sam’s daughter, Amy Foose, who died at the age of 16 from a very rare condition known as Progeria. For all the awards and acclaim both men have earned in the car industry, they are ever mindful of the joy their family experienced through Amy’s brief life, using their notoriety to gain support for The Progeria Research Foundation. It with utmost respect for Sam, his wife Terry, and their son Chip that Canyon Lake car enthusiasts putting on last week’s Car Show and Cruise determined to use proceeds raised from the show to support that cause.
At 37 in. tall, 26 lbs., the tiny teen was much smaller than children half her age. She was loved and she was filled with joy and good humor until the day she died of a heart attack on December 19, 1985.
The youngest of four children, Amy was born in September 1969, of normal weight and height, but with one peculiar difference her mother didn’t understand. Her skin was as soft as any baby but her underlying tissues were hard. When she was about 10 months old, an unexplained skin condition resulted in the first of many visits to many doctors; and with every examination and test the news grew worse.
“Finally, in 1973, after years of searching and worrying, we got the answers we were looking for . . . from the only doctor in the U.S. studying Progeria,” says Terry. “When he heard of Amy’s condition, he contacted us and it was then we finally knew what the future would hold for our daughter.”
Terry and Sam learned this extremely rare and little understood condition is a genetic disease characterized by premature and accelerated aging – and that it is always fatal. Children with Progeria die of heart disease or stroke at an average age of 13 years. “We immediately decided Amy would have as normal and happy a life as possible – that she would be encouraged to explore her talents and would have our support as she pursued her dreams,” says Terry.
After her death, the Foose family determined to honor Amy’s memory by helping others with this disease through research conducted by The Progeria Research Foundation.
In 2002, the foundation’s collaborative research team made history with the discovery of the Progeria gene. This discovery not only led to further understanding of the disease, but scientists now know that studying Progeria can help them learn more about heart disease and the normal aging process that affects everyone. The foundation is funding a Progeria clinical trial at three hospitals in Boston associated with Harvard University – and that’s what money raised at last week’s car show will go towards.
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