By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
CHATTANOOGA — Former University of Tennessee football legend Joshua Dobbs was not the only champion on center stage during the recent Night of Champions event sponsored by Red Bank Baptist Church.
Joining Dobbs in the spotlight was Grayson Ledbetter, a 6-year-old with Alexander Disease, an extremely rare progressive disease that will eventually cause the person to lose the ability to walk, talk and even eat before the disease takes his or her life.
“Grayson is a champion as he fights for his life,” observed Josh Lancaster, executive pastor at Red Bank Baptist Church. Grayson is the grandson of Red Bank member Tim and Robin Ledbetter who are involved in leadership for the children’s ministry at the church.
Faith has played a vital role in this family’s fight to find a cure for Alexander Disease which affects 100 people in the United States and only 300 people worldwide, Lancaster said.
Following Dobb’s presentation, Red Bank pastor Sam Greer conducted an interview with mother, Laura Ledbetter.
“When Grayson was diagnosed with Alexander Disease in 2017, it was devastating. But it wasn’t the first time — or the last time — he would overcome odds and inspire those — around him with his infectious joy and love.”
She noted that even though Grayson is living with “a seemingly insurmountable disease,” the family has hope for treatment and an eventual cure.
The family established Grayson’s Ladder, a component fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, to be the catalyst for research and development of a treatment and eventual cure of Alexander Disease.
“Grayson’s Ladder strives toward that end through prayer, community, funding and support for families affected by this disease and other forms of Leukodystrophy,” his mother shared.
“This hope stems from our faith, but also from knowing there are medical professionals who wake up thinking about Alexander Disease and who are currently developing a drug with the potential to treat it.”
Mrs. Ledbetter observed that, “Thankfully, Grayson doesn’t know what Alexander Disease is, but we do. We know it’s urgent. We know lives hang in the balance. But we are hopeful, and we ask you to join us as we take big steps and climb to a cure.”