By Austin Bishop
The Choctaw Plaindealer
To Tyler Russell it mattered, and that’s what really struck a chord with Suzanne Quinn Gregory.
Earlier this fall Gregory saw Russell, a senior quarterback for Mississippi State University, while he was dining with a friend at a restaurant in Louisville. She approached him and shared the story of her 7-year-old son Quinn, who is suffering from MPS III Type A and gave him a “Pray for Quinn” bracelet.
“Honestly, I didn’t know if he would wear it or not,” Gregory said. “You hand a lot of them out and people take them, but you really never know what they are gong to do with them.”
It didn’t take her long to discover Russell’s intentions.
The Gregorys are big Mississippi State fans, attending most home games for all of the sports they can.
“At the next home (football) game my daughter (Brayleigh) called me all excited saying “Tyler’s wearing the bracelet, Tyler’s wearing the bracelet’,” Gregory said. “He was actually wearing it at the game. That meant a lot.”
And there would be more.
On New year’s Day the Gregorys — Suzanne, her husband Brad, Brayleigh and Quinn — got a phone call that someone wanted to come by and visit with them. Later that day Russell, who was in Winston County hunting with a friend from Louisville, showed up at their house with a very special gift for Quinn — the jersey he had worn on the sidelines during Mississippi State’s 44-7 win over Rice in the Liberty Bowl just one day earlier.
While Quinn’s disease may have kept him from fully understanding the impact of that visit, his family certainly did.
“That just meant so much to us for him to do something like that for someone he hadn’t even met and didn’t even know,” Gregory said. “It’s obvious that he took the time to find out more about the disease and it really touched him.”
MPS III Type A is a mucopolysaccharide disease that affects the building of connective tissues in the body. Children with MPS III are missing an enzyme which is essential in breaking down and replacing used materials in the body. This leads to progressive damage, which can be seen in a loss of hearing, speech as well as other areas of function, and causes them to be highly active.
“Quinn can’t go to the games with us because it just wouldn’t be safe,” she said. “You would have to see him, he just never wants to sit still and is very active. He gets to go to the tailgating, but that’s about it.”
Gregory said Quinn was diagnosed at the age of two, when it seemed like nobody had the answer.
“It really was a shock to all of us,” she said. “We knew something was wrong, we just didn’t know what or how much. He didn’t show any signs of it really as a baby.”
She said that according to what she can find out, Quinn may currently be the only person with this disease — which is labeled as incurable — in Mississippi.
Gregory said that Russell seemed very shy and reserved when he came on New Year’s Day.
“You could tell he wasn’t doing this to bring any attention to himself or to get any credit,” she said. “I sent him a text and asked if I could share it in order to bring attention (to the disease) and he was okay with that.
“When somebody else shows you they really care, it makes a difference,” she said.