When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Gracin Murarescu thought for a moment, then simply said, “Big.”
Murarescu told The Times-Gazette he loves eating pizza and M&Ms, playing outside and going to school. According to his mom, Jodi Murarescu, Gracin is quite popular in his kindergarten class at New Vienna Elementary School and enjoys spending time with his friends.
Like an approximate 6,000 babies born every year in the United States, the 6-year-old from Lynchburg was born with Down Syndrome, a chromosomal condition resulting in distinct physical characteristics and some cognitive delays.
Gracin is this year’s poster child for the annual Ernie Blankenship Radio-Telethon for the benefit of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults. The event, which has taken place every year since 1973, raises funds for the society to aid Highland County residents, like Gracin and his family, who need financial assistance with medical expenses.
According to the National Down Syndrome Society, people with Down Syndrome are at an increased risk for some medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions.
Children like Gracin often require extensive medical care – and that’s where the HCSCA was able to help.
“He’s an example of the kind of things we do,” said Gayle Coss, executive secretary for the HCSCA. “It’s always so gratifying to me what the community does… It truly is neighbor helping neighbor. It does a lot of good.”
The radio-telethon is held in honor of the late Ernie Blankenship, the driving force behind the event for many years, and is hosted by the Rotary Clubs of Hillsboro and Greenfield.
It will be broadcast live from US Bank in Hillsboro from 6-9 p.m. March 29 on the local community access teleivision channel, and on WSRW 101.5 FM and WSRW AM 1590. In Greenfield, it will be broadcast from 6-9 p.m. from the McClain High School Media Room on the community access channel and on WVNU FM 97.5.
Rotarians will take pledges by telephone or in person for those who come to the bank during the broadcast. Pledges can be made during the telethon by calling 937-393-5701. Checks can be dropped off at any local bank or mailed to the society at P.O. Box 258, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.
Coss said Gracin will be on the air during the radio-telethon.
Jodi, who works at National Cooperative Bank as a fraud analyst, said her biggest challenge raising Gracin is that he can be stubborn.
“He’s very patient, but when he’s done, he’s done,” she said, adding that keeping a consistent schedule helps.
When he’s not at school or going to doctor’s appointments, Gracin said he enjoys playing with his two dogs – miniature schnauzers named Mickey and Maggie – as well as one fish that he proudly said he named “Swimmy.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.