Katie’s dream: 13-year-old hoping to attend Turner syndrome conference to ‘fit in ... with people my own height’

Nick Shepherd • Jun 3, 2013 at 9:10 AM

KINGSPORT — When you ask most 13-year-old girls where they would like to go on vacation, some would say Disney World or the beach, but when you ask Katie Browder where she wants to go on vacation, she says to a medical conference.

That’s because Katie has Turner syndrome, an X chromosome disorder that only affects females. Turner syndrome affects 1 out of every 2,500 live births.

“You can’t really feel it,” Katie said. “But then again, when you go into a big society, like school or something, you can definitely feel the differences.”

One of the physical conditions of Turner syndrome is a short stature. Most women with it won’t reach five feet tall, and because of this, Katie said she feels like a “kindergartner going through high school.”

There are not a lot of women with Turner syndrome living in East Tennessee so Katie has a dream of traveling to the annual Turner Syndrome Society conference. It is held in a different place every year and this year it is being held in Dallas, Texas.

“Katie wants to go because up here in East Tennessee there’s not that many Turners and if there are they are the babies,” said Katie’s mom, Amanda Browder. “So she has nobody of her own that she can sit there and talk to and say, ‘What’s coming up, you’re older than me or what can I expect?’”

There are a number of health problems associated with Turner syndrome. Some of those include heart defects, infertility, kidney, thyroid and liver concerns, hearing loss, scoliosis among others.

Some of the physical traits of people with Turner syndrome include, slight droop to eyes, receding lower jaw, webbed neck, many moles and the short stature.

Katie has a number of these conditions. She has a heart murmur, hearing loss, droopy eyes, moles and a webbed neck.

The number of health problems means Katie and her mom spend quite a bit of time with doctors. Browder estimates they have to visit the emergency room about every three months.

Browder figures the trip to Dallas will cost around $3,000. So the family has begun to put on fundraisers around town to try and raise enough money to go.

“We’ve got a fundraiser coming up on June 20 at Pizza Hut,” Browder said. “We’ve got two pancake breakfasts coming up on June 8 at Applebee’s and June 22 at Texas Roadhouse. It’s an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.”

Gov. Bill Haslam recently proclaimed February Turner Syndrome Awareness month in Katie’s honor. Katie and her mom have also started a Turner Syndrome Society chapter in East Tennessee.

Katie loves sports, especially soccer, basketball and softball. She is a typical 13-year-old just with a different dream.

If you want to donate, you can go to any Green Bank in the area and say “Katie’s dream” and donate, or you can call (423) 342-6654.

For Katie, just being able to meet other women with these same conditions would mean a lot.

“It would mean the world to me because I would actually get to fit in and be with people my own height,” Katie said. “I would get to talk about what I’ve got. It’s a lot easier to talk to people about what you’ve got with people that have it. I think it would be fun.”

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