Northampton Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY CHRIS ZWEIFEL Informed guests leaving with their tea cup and saucer gifts are, from left, Joyce Laudenslager of Allentown, Evelyn Hodes of Whitehall and Nancy Woodring of Catasauqua. PRESS PHOTO BY CHRIS ZWEIFEL Informed guests leaving with their tea cup and saucer gifts are, from left, Joyce Laudenslager of Allentown, Evelyn Hodes of Whitehall and Nancy Woodring of Catasauqua.

Tea party helps raise awareness of bone disorder

Thursday, December 6, 2012 by CHRIS ZWEIFEL Special to The Press in Local News

It was a tea party laced with knowledge.

The second annual Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) awareness event was held Nov. 24 at St. John's United Church of Christ, Howertown.

The function was hosted by family and friends of Coplay resident Bradley Koch, who was born with OI, or "brittle bone disorder," which causes fragile bones and other connective tissue symptoms. He was diagnosed at 4 months old, and by that time he had already had 15 broken bones, many of them occurring at birth.

"It was very hard on all of us, but he was a happy baby in spite of all of it," said Bradley's mother, Abby.

Bradley, now 2 years old, continues to receive occupational therapy to help him strengthen his core muscles, which help him with balance and stamina.

"He is very blessed to be on the lowest level of level one, and continues to grow and thrive and accomplish all that a little 2-year-old should," said his grandmother Eileen Abruzzi of Whitehall. "He meets every day with the same uninhibited enthusiasm as any other toddler, jumping out of bed every morning."

Abby says that the benefit is actually an online fundraiser, but her mother turned it into a get-together. A $10 donation was requested upon admission, allowing the donor to take chances at baskets, gift cards and other prizes. Additional tickets were also offered.

Guests chatted while hostesses in festive aprons passed trays of assorted sandwiches and kept tea pots filled. Everyone left with a tea-themed door prize. OI resources were also made available.

The tea event raised more than $1,500, which is expected to be doubled by an anonymous OI family.

This is not the only awareness event the family holds for the OI Foundation. This past summer, on Bradley's first birthday, family members held an old-fashioned carnival, complete with a big tent, ring toss and a duck pond. They intend to hold a similar event again next summer.

Since Bradley's diagnosis, he has been fortunate not to break any additional bones, but the possibility of injuries is ever present, the family says. There is no cure for the disease and little is known about it, said his mother.

According to OI Foundation literature, OI does not compromise intellectual ability. People with OI live independently, however, many encounter limited mobility, physical pain and societal prejudices.

"[Bradley] will have to face additional challenges as he continues to grow and change, but there is also no doubt he will face them head on with determination and great success," said Abruzzi. "He is blessed with an amazing support system."

Proceeds will benefit the OI Foundation, which helps people and families living with OI. For more information, visit www.ofi.org.