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Woodbury track and field: Second-annual Mariella Mile set for May 4

Mariella Lucio-Thomas, the niece of longtime Woodbury High School track and field coach Jim Scott, was born with a little-known developmental syndrome called 5p- (five P minus), which is also known as Cat Cry Syndrome or Cri du Chat.

A rare genetic disorder due to a missing part of chromosome 5, individuals with 5p- can have severe cognitive, speech and motor delays and be inflicted with behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, aggression, tantrums and repetitive movements. 5p- Syndrome is characterized at birth by a high pitched cry, low birth weight, poor muscle tone, microcephaly and potential medical complications. 5p- Syndrome affects an estimated 1 in 50,000 live births, strikes all ethnicities and is more common in females.

Lucio-Thomas, who turns 3 years old this June, has moderate developmental delays, but has otherwise eluded most health related complications that can be associated with her diagnosis.

Lucio-Thomas can't currently walk or talk. She can stand for brief periods of time, crawls and communicates through some basic sign language. Scott said she is "an inspirational little girl with an infectious smile."

"Her parents do a great job with her," Scott said. "She's in therapy and she's getting stronger, but she'll probably have mental and physical developmental issues her whole life."

For the second-straight year the Woodbury boys and girls track programs are hosting a fundraiser in honor of Lucio-Thomas called the Mariella Mile with all of the proceeds going towards the 5P- Society and the Minnesota Children's Hospitals and Clinics Genetics Research Department - two organizations that have had a significant impact on Lucio-Thomas and her family's lives.

Scott said he had never heard about 5p- Syndrome before Lucio-Thomas was born.

"When it affects your family, though, you learn about it and find out what you can do to help," Scott said. "You feel so helpless, but you try to figure out what you can do. This seemed like a logical thing to try. Let's raise some money to bring some awareness to the 5p- Society and Cri du Chat. We can love them and support them all you can, but I wanted to do more than that."

The Mariella Mile will take place on Saturday, May 4, at Woodbury High School with several different mile-long races to accommodate all levels of competition - including a "Diaper Dash" for the little kids. The festivities start at 9:30 a.m. There will be event T-shirts, a prize raffle, concessions and an informational booth about 5p-.

Scott put together the Mariella Mile along with his brother-in-law and Mariella's dad, Joe Thomas - an All-American high jumper at the University of St. Thomas - and Mariella's mom Alana Lucio-Thomas.

"We have the perfect facility to do something," Scott said. "It just kind of clicked. I thought we could just run some mile races, make it family friendly, invite our friends and see if we can make some money."

Last year the Mariella Mile raised over $5,000 and roughly 150 people participated in the races. This year, Scott hopes the fundraiser will eclipse over $8,000 in donations. Scott is currently working to gather donations, registrations for the races and business sponsorships. He can be contacted at 651-768-4880 for more information.

"We didn't even really know what we were doing last year, but it went great," Scott said. "We had a lot of people who just donated money last year. The weather wasn't great last year. I think that affected participation, but we still had a lot of fun."