December 6th, 2011
08:59 AM ET

Human Factor: College athlete battles mitochondrial disease

In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship –- they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. This week we meet a young man who has battled a metabolic disease since childhood, but fights to not let it interfere with his dreams.

I am a 20-year-old student athlete at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I play college baseball and am challenged every day by mitochondrial disease. 

Mitochondrial disease is an energy production problem. Almost all cells in the body have mitochondria, which are tiny “power plants” that produce the body’s essential energy. 

When the mitochondria don’t function properly, the body has a power failure and can experience brownouts (intense mental and/or physical fatigue, prolonged sicknesses, aka mitochondrial crashes) or even potentially fatal blackouts.

Living with mitochondrial disease has been an ongoing experience because I learn more and more about its impact on my physical limitations daily. The disease takes on many different forms; no two people’s disease looks alike.

Playing baseball at the collegiate level was a dream I had growing up, which I am now getting to live out on a daily basis. Every time I am in the weight room conditioning or practicing on the baseball field, I am confronted with signs and symptoms of my disease. It was my sophomore year in high school when I got my official diagnosis.

Looking back, I realize the onset of symptoms started in fourth grade when I was asked to play football on one of my baseball coaches’ football team the coming fall. Because I was a bigger kid on the baseball team, football seemed to be a natural fit for me. However, I remember that first season of playing football all too well.

Nightly, the joke between the coaches was, “What did Colby eat for dinner tonight?” As a fourth grader I reasoned my vomiting episodes before, during and after practices and games were the result of being a chubby, out-of-shape kid.  Additionally though, my entire body would cramp daily as well.

Not too long into that football season, I decided it was not the sport for me. So, I went back to playing baseball only until 8th grade when once again the coaches at Landmark Christian School saw my build and stature and asked me to try football again. Being extremely competitive, I pushed past my physical limitations I’d previously experienced, but continued to have the same repercussions as before. 

Having had success in middle school football, I continued playing my freshman and sophomore years, but it became obvious my body’s responses to the grueling day-to-day requirements of a football player were not the norm as daily cramping and vomiting continued. In fact, symptoms worsened due to the increased physical requirements at the varsity level. It didn’t seem to make sense; the more I conditioned my body, the weaker I became. In the weight room, my numbers plummeted when they should have been increasing.

Since my symptoms only appeared during football, each season my parents took me to various specialists trying to find the problem. It wasn’t until a scary episode my sophomore year in which I blacked out, lost control of my body and wet myself that finally propelled my family to search even further for the cause.  

In a few months I met with Dr. John Shoffner of Medical Neurogenetics of Atlanta, Georgia, who determined based on my case file and presenting symptoms, I was a candidate for a muscle biopsy, which would determine if I had mitochondrial disease. Three months waiting brought us closure. I did, in fact, have mitochondrial disease.

In 2010, I was selected as an ambassador for the Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine, an Atlanta-based, non-profit organization established to support the development of the most promising research and treatment of the many forms of mitochondrial disease. It has been a vital experience for me to connect with others who have the disease. I am inspired by these people. I choose to view my journey as a way to help spread awareness of the disease and speed treatments and eventual cures through my ambassadorship. 

There were many times I could have taken the easy way out and quit athletics, but that would not have made me who I am today. All of these circumstances combine to help me find my path in life.

My desire, as well, is to use my platform as a Georgia Tech baseball player to encourage mitochondrial kids and teenagers that they, too, can find some form of normalcy in some facet of their lives. At the end of the day, I have chosen to put my faith in God’s hands and trust Him to guide my path.

If you would like to contact me or follow my journey in gaining exposure and support for mitochondrial disease, then follow me on twitter: @MitoguyGT. To learn more about the disease and find ways to speed effective treatments and cures look online at www.foundmm.org .

soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Jeannette Solimine

    I'm glad to see you're raising awareness about this rare disorder that is mitochondrial disease, but frankly, this young man is hardly typical of many of the children and adults who have a mitochondrial disorder. My younger daughter has a Complex I disorder. She is 11 years old, but she functions at a below 2 year old level, is non-verbal, didn't walk until age 8, still uses a wheelchair at times, has seizures that can't be controlled completely, has been hospitalized multiple times, and has nearly died several times. This made it sound like mito was a mere inconvenience instead of something that required a complete restructuring of a person's and family's life and expectations.

    What he is doing is wonderful in so many ways for kids who are near "normal", but please remember that many will never have "normalcy" in their lives or even understand that they are different.

    December 6, 2011 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Heather Laurie

    Did you really mean the CNN report to sound like you can just exercise your way out of mitochondrial disease or supplements can restore mitochondria? I am very happy to see how healthy this young man is. There was no balance to the story mitochondrial disease is a progressive terminal disease. The majority of mitochondrial patients are much sicker than that and there was no mention of them. Such as this young man sweated, mito has taken that from 3 of my kids and they would heat stroke doing even part of the exercise he did.
    Thank you for trying to improve awareness of mitochondrial disease. I just wish with all my heart that the story, voice over, and editing had been more balanced. In the end this story hurt the mito community.
    Dissapointed in the story: Mother with mitochondrial disease (feeding tube, O2, and wheelchair or bedbound) 5 children that have inherited this disease and have had problems from strokes, to lack of sweating, to seizures, etc.

    December 6, 2011 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Colby

      Not at all actually, I was just saying for me I have to be extremely careful, and push through things that I can. If I can physically do it.. I do it, if not I do not. Read the AJC article it will fill in blanks.

      December 6, 2011 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
    • Heather Laurie

      Hey Colbie!
      I don't want you to think this is against you. I am thrilled you are doing so well. Much of my problem with the piece was there was no mention of the wide spectrum of mitochondrial disease presentations and sadly endings. You do bring me hope. Be careful and stay strong!
      Heather Laurie

      December 6, 2011 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
    • Debbie Parsons

      I respectfully disagree with your comment that this story hurt the Mito community. Colby I think your story is absolutely amazing and I appreciate you sharing how Mitochondrial Disease has impacted you and your life. You are an inspiration with figuring out how to balance Mito with what you want to do in life. I am forever grateful to CNN for covering such an incredible story and getting the words "Mitochondrial Disease" out to millions of Americans. Colby and CNN......you have just reached the entire United States of America about a disease that most folks don not know about. Thank-you for sharing your story with us Colby and thank-you CNN for taking the time to cover a disease that is catastrophic in so many cases. Thank-you!

      December 6, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
  3. Anonymous


    Full story from AJC on Colby

    December 6, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Laura Stanley

    Colby Wren is an inspiration to others with mitochondrial disease despite that many people experience forms of the disease that are vastly different than his. He handles his mitochondrial disease with determination and grace and is generous in giving his time to others and we are proud that he is an ambassador for the Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine. The spectrum of mitochondrial disease ranges from mild impairment to severe neurological, muscular malfunction and in some cases can even be fatal. While seemingly rare, in fact this disease is very common, because it is related to many better-known diseases including Autism, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and chronic fatigue syndrome. The foundation’s mission is to fund research for treatment. It is our hope that we can fund a cure, fuel the connections, and lead the way in treatment for mitochondrial disease. For more information on how to help please visit the foundation’s website.

    December 6, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mitomom

    Colby obviously has an extremely mild case of mitochondrial disease. Most mitochondrial patients have difficulty doing even everyday normal physical tasks, like walking, and don't have the strength or energy to exercise at all.

    December 6, 2011 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Cassie Winkler

    While I do wish that the story would have covered the spectrum of mitochondrial disease, I think it's wonderful that he is raising awareness for a disease that has very little awareness. Yes, a lot of our children are more severely affected, but this is a story about this particular boy's struggle with mitochondrial disease. If I wrote an article about my 3 year old, it would read differently from Colby's, and from your child's. Thank you, Colby, for raising awareness for my child.

    December 6, 2011 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mitofamily

    I am very glad that this man is raising awareness for mito but I don't think this story was done well at all. I am VERY glad that this man is doing okay but that is one side of it and we work very hard to show people the other side, that it is not okay. This disease is killing people, I have watched my 2 year old quickly decline and loose skills. I fight daily to explain to family and friends how important it is that we DON'T push her to hard, and this story negates that. I feel this was a huge step back for the kind of awareness we are trying to bring to mito. I really think they needed this, or another story to show how mito affects MAJORITY of people. This story makes it seem like mito isn't that bad, and you can work through it if you keep pushing. This disease will likely kill my child, she can't just push through it. My daughter went to the park and now can no longer walk. She ended up in the hospital just from the trip to see the mito doc. She was sick and I had to make the decision to take her to the hospital or keep her home to rest, because I knew that a hospital stay would make her worse, that she needed all the rest she could get
    I have to admit that I am quite bitter today and I am sure that shows in my post, but today am I afraid for my child's life and future. Again I am VERY happy that this man is sharing his story, I am in no way upset with him, I wish the writer had painted a more balanced picture of mito.

    December 6, 2011 at 14:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lindsay Knops

    As the mother of a six year old daughter with mitochondrial disease, I would like to personally thank both Colby Wren and CNN for helping to raise awareness of mitochondrial diseases. I am disappointed in those in the mito community who feel that this story has "hurt" us...shame on you! Because Colby CAN be active and be a voice, we should be grateful. High-profile cases like this have the potential to garner MUCH more attention in the media, in turn raising much needed money for research that will benefit us all. There is no "typical" patient with mito and no two patients, even within the same family or with the same "type" of mito, will present the same way. I thank Colby and his family for working to advocate for the mito community at large.

    December 6, 2011 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mitofamily

      I think we are all very grateful for the attention it is bringing to mito. Doesn't mean it couldn't have been a more balanced story and I would think that you would not say shame on anybody dealing with this horrible disease just for disagreeing with you. We are supposed to support each other not put each other down, we all deal with things differently and we have no way of knowing what someone else is going through today to make them react to this story the way they are.

      December 6, 2011 at 15:03 | Report abuse |
    • Lindsay Knops

      Anyone dealing with any aspect of this disease would not take the offense to this story that I've seen taken today here and on Facebook. We ALL struggle. I am the mother of a child who has symptoms much more severe than Colby's but our experience in no way discounts his or that of his family. Like Terry said, this is the story of ONE person with mitochondrial disease. I know you've all heard the saying, "When you meet one person with autism, you've met ONE PERSON with autism." The same applies to mito. Could the entire spectrum of the diseases been shown? Yes. Would it have been helpful? Of course. But, again, this is Colby's story. We could all write our children's stories and not a single one would be the same, but that doesn't mean the pain a parent faces is lessened in any way.

      This is a start. I want to see more and more national coverage. I've always said that I want to make green the new pink. I want mito to become a disease that people are familiar with and that they recognize as being at the heart of so many other diseases. Without a step in the right direction, that level of awareness will never be reached. To Colby and his family, thank you for taking that first step.

      December 6, 2011 at 17:32 | Report abuse |
  9. Jen Moody

    I am thankful to Colby Wren... I am thankful that my son who was almost 3 has someone to give him a voice. On paper my son looked "fine" (he did have muscle bx results to say he had mito complex I and III but no name), in pictures my son didn't look sick, I had professionals tell me that Zach was okay, I had professionals in the ICU tell me that Zach wasn't sick, I had professionals in the PICU tell me that I couldn't get nursing for my son because nursing is for those who are actually sick... 2 months later my son died. Died from MITO, died from the disease that he had but he looked okay from. Zach looked good, we were and are blessed. I heard him say he loved me, I have memories of him doing things. However, my son that looked fine spent 95 days in patient and had blood transfusions weekly from Jan till May alone, died. Was he profoundly effected, NO! he could walk some, he could attempt to talk, he was just small, honestly people thought that he was just younger. I appreciate that Colby is giving Zach a voice, he is educating people that no matter how you look you can be sick. I honestly don't care who raises the awareness, who raises the money or who finds a cure, all I really care about is that SOMEONE does. That one day there will be a treatment, or even better a cure. I want no family to go through what we are going through now.

    December 6, 2011 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sandra setin

      First and foremost I am so sorry for Zach's passing, a pain I can not understand.
      Our son Sebastien is apparent he has health /cognitive issues and we are wheelchair bound w/severe to profound hearing loss as well and low energy.
      I agree with you Mito has so many Faces and Colby is just one (and proud of him and his family for making a difference)
      I am so happy we are making PRESS! It is a start and so many comments from some parents that wanted more are just parents scared with what you already faced..
      I hope CNN sees our blog and does a follow up story for all of us and again another voice for Zach.
      We are not an orphan disease, since the Mitochondria is responsible for so many other diseases...Alzheimers, Huntingtons, Parkinsons and now Autism... We will be heard and I am proud of this story since I know it is just the beginning and we have been waiting 6 years since our 11 year old was diagnosed and we see him digress... Zach will not be in vain and I am hoping many others will not be as well.
      Thank You for your post!
      Sandra Setin

      December 6, 2011 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
  10. Terry Cech

    I think Colby did a great job in explaining how he deals with Mito disease on a daily basis. Of course this is just one person's story. We all know that there is a wide range of how people are affected by it, just like Autism and Downs syndrome. I think we have to look at the positive side of the story and that Mito is getting national attention. Many champions/faces of disease have never had the disease themselves but because they are well known they put that to good use. A prime example of that is Jerry Lewis who for many years was the face of the MDA. Look at the advances the MDA has made over the years.
    I don't know the whole story of what any of you go through on a daily basis, but we all know what it is like to take care of a chronically ill child whose disease is not well understood by many, even the medical field.
    And let's not forget that CNN had the final say of what was shown not Colby, they chose what they wanted to put on the air not him.

    December 6, 2011 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Heather Pruder

    I don't care who gives us a voice – all I want is it to be done correctly – the world needs to see all ends of the stick from mild to middle to severe. They need to hear the names, Apers, Leighs, Mitochrondrial Depletion Syndrome, Complexes, they need to see the faces of our community who look fine on the outside but their bodies are turning against them on the inside...they need to understand that we have no Treatment, no cure and at times it feels as though we have no hope. We have had family doing well and the next moment can no longer walk, have to spend countless hours doing therapy's just to breath, all the euipment we need and last but not least the world needs to understand that MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS have no clue, no idea and refuse to even acknowledge this as a real disease.
    Mitochrondrial Disease will take almost as many children from us as Childhood Cancer and yet no one cares...and for this at least post the story correctly.

    December 6, 2011 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Terri Wren

    As Colby's mom, I have to say I am proud of the example he sets in giving back of his time and investing in such a worthy cause as raising awareness and funds that research speeding treatments and cures for mitochondrial disease. Forever, I'll be grateful for the fact he uses such a platform to help others in whatever spectrum of the disorder one may find himself in. Each of your posts have validity in what you've stated. Yes, there is frustration in having mitochondrial disease 'appear' to be a mere inconvenience. Far from it, many mitochondrial patients suffer greatly as was mentioned in several of the above postings. Some lose their lives; a dear friend's son passed away in June. The depth and breadth of the disease are never far from our minds or hearts. We talk to many of you and our hearts break with yours. Please know this is a first step, hopefully, to fuller coverage of the disorder and the family of diseases to whom mitochondrial disorders are so closely linked. For more in-depth, yet understandable information on what mitochondrial disorders are, please go to http://www.foundmm.org. Help us speed the way to treatment and eventual cures. Each of your stories is fuel and inspiration for us to work even harder at finding treatments. Help us spread the word about this very widely-spectrumed family of disease.

    December 6, 2011 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Richard Schultz

    It is unfortunate that this article did not focus on the Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine. Their website provides a much more informative and balanced view of mitochondrial diseases. This web page from the Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine should have been the central feature of their story. http://www.foundmm.org/​mitochondrial_dysfunction_a​nd_familiar_diseases.php

    December 6, 2011 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Heather Meyer

    Thank you for sharing your story and for all the work you do to help support families struggling with this disease. I think it is wonderful that you are living out your dreams and doing what you can to live the best life that you are able to. I would never want to limit my daughter and keep her from having the best childhood that she can. No one can predict her future and I want her to know that she can always live life to the fullest extent of what is possible for her, whether that is a long life or a short life.

    December 6, 2011 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Deb Wells

    Having lost one son at 6yo to Mito and another child who is living with mito and currently 6, I feel this story was nothing but a positive step in the right direction! I agree with Lindsay that awareness is good. It actually does a lot of GOOD for the families who have children who don't "LOOK" like they have a disability, in fact, I believe they need more public awareness and advocacy than any other mito patients. I believe drs and families will see this and realize their patients and grandchildren might look okay but actually be sick. As someone who has already lost a child, the last thing I want my youngest son to do is to not LIVE while he is alive. Too many worry so much about the 'what if's' that they don't let their children just be children. I'm sure Colby's mom worries about him but on the other hand probably is proud and respects his choices. It would have been nice for them to mention the wide spectrum, yes, but what they did do didn't hurt us and I'm frankly saddened that the mito community would publicly slam their efforts. And lets remember, research is showing that mito patients NEED exercise...its hard to reconcile that in our minds when talking about an energy disease but its something we have to start changing! The kids that can be out fulfilling their dream should give it their all, those who can't need to feel comfortable dreaming new dreams!

    December 6, 2011 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Richard Schultz

      CNN is at least getting the word "mitochondria" out into the public's consciousness. However, a more important (and, I think, gripping) story would be to investigate how little almost all doctors really know about these diseases and why it is important for them to start educating themselves. Mito sufferers shouldn't have to make their doctors pay attention when diagnoses are not simple.

      December 7, 2011 at 05:21 | Report abuse |
  16. Debbie Parsons

    Dear Colby,
    Thank-you so much for helping bring this horrible disease out of obscurity. You have an amazing "fight:" in you that is also being balanced by managing your Mitochondrial Disease. I appreciate "putting yourself out there" because you have just made the entire United States aware of what Mitochondrial Disease is. So many families have been fighting to do what you just did! Thank-you for spreading awareness on a national level.
    My daughter Katie (9), has Mito and appears "normal". You articulated very well some of the struggles she is dealing with right now. When you mentioned you came home from class and slept for 8 hours, Katie watched it and said she is so glad that someone "famous" has to do that to. When you listed off some of your meds...she was so excited they were the same ones that she is taking. This is the first time she has seen someone that she can identify with...and that means the world to a child. Thank-you
    I find out on December 21st if I have Mitochondrial Disease and if will impact her older brother who is an avid sports player. You truly are hope for many folks, including myself. I bet your parents are incredibly proud of you and am so thank-ful that your parents were able to get you properly diagnosed. We to are in Atlanta and are forever grateful for Shoffner also

    As I see some of the posts, I sense the frustration of some folks wanting to go from 0-100 when educating folks about Mito. I understand when your child's life is on the line, but to explain it all would take a CNN special, not an interview. ..which someday in the near future maybe that will happen.

    Thank-you CNN for taking a look at this devastating disease and thank-you Colby for what you have just done to spread awareness and giving a voice to so many people. Thank-you!

    December 6, 2011 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Joann Bennett

    HI Colby,
    Mrs. Bennett here in PTC. Keep up the great work. Listen to your body. So glad to hear you are doing so well. How proud you can be of all you have accomplished. Your medical condition is part of you but does not define you. Good for you. We hope to have Kevin at GT in a couple of yrs. Go Jackets!

    December 6, 2011 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Susan Schreer Davis

    Way to go, Colby. Thanks for putting yourself out there. I'm hoping that after hearing the story several times, folks will simply be able to pronounce the name of this ugly disease correctly : ) My son and I are both affected – and it's hard. There's no way I could play baseball at this stage since fifteen minutes of floating in a pool stresses my muscles. But I'm glad CNN caught Colby's story if nothing more than for name recognition. Continued education will help fill in the gaps. And that's where each one of us comes in. Thanks, Colby. That was a courageous thing to do, right before exams no less. God Bless!

    December 6, 2011 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mohammad

      Hi thereIm wondering how you went about snitteg up Mito Canada. Ive been thinking about something similar for Ireland as while UMDF and Mito Action are terrific, I think we need something more regional based but with afficiliations to UMDF, Mito Action in the US, Mito Canada and Mito Australia. I know through the facebook page that there appears to be a need for something in Ireland so I would appreciate any information you could give me.Some background my 4 1/2 year old son Jack was diagnosed at 14 months with Complexes I, III & IV missing and has chronic renal failure, hypotonic and is profoundly deaf. He is on the Q10, Carnetene and Vit C for mito & other meds/feeds for the renal failure included pd dialysis 6 nights a week at home & is ng fed.Look forward to hearing from you.Christine

      April 7, 2012 at 20:29 | Report abuse |
  19. Sebastien

    Our 14 months old son was diagnosed with a Mito disease last month, a few days later, Colby story came out in the AJC. Since then I have been in contact with him via twitter. He is a very down to earth, willing to help person as one can find.
    We need to remember that they took over 4 hours of footage for a 3 minutes report, so of course a lot of the details about the "spectrum" of Mito disease was left out.
    However, this is a great first step, but it is our "job" to bring even more awareness to this disease.
    Since then, we spend 3 weeks in the hospital, including one week in the ICU and we found out that our son has Leigh disease, so there are no treatment, no cure and frankly no hope for our little boy. I really don;t think my wife and I have come to grip about it yet, as our son look "normal" but the disease is taking over his brain.
    What we could do is try to "pressure" CNN into running a follow up story about the "other" side of Mito disease, I am sure a lot of us on here will be willing to talk to them.
    So we should all email CNN and strike while the iron is still hot, we are in the spotlight, let;s make the most of it.

    December 6, 2011 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • smileanacerv@yahoo.com

      You're so right!!! Lets make the best of this. We need people to be aware of this illness!
      Like everyone says everybody is different. We have an inspirational story that will help someone continue and not give up.
      There's no harm and being positive, right?

      June 30, 2013 at 14:09 | Report abuse |
  20. Sebastien

    here is the web address to send comment to Dr. Sanjay Gupta

    December 6, 2011 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Richard Schultz

    CNN is at least getting the word "mitochondria" out into the public's consciousness. However, a more important (and, I think, gripping) story would be to investigate how little almost all doctors really know about these diseases and why it is important for them to start educating themselves. Mito sufferers shouldn't have to make their doctors pay attention when diagnoses are not simple.

    December 7, 2011 at 05:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mighty Mighty Mito Mom

    It is wonderful to see that Colby is standing up and taking the torch that mito has needed for a long time. I agree that it would have been nice had CNN and/or the doctor added in a few sidebars so that others would know that he is one of the exceptions or that he is just one end of the spectrum and to direct people to UMDF, Mitoaction, or MDA. Colby may not be aware of the trial that others go through. So, instead of brooding on what "they" didn't do, we need to turn this around and put our energy into contacting CNN, 20/20, or other major reporting source and add our stories to his and help create a full picture. Colby is only one piece in the mosaic that makes up mito so let's add our stories so the world can finally see the whole picture... Mom with mito, four children with differing degrees of mito, and mother of a mito angel. ~Mighty, Mighty, Mito Mom

    December 7, 2011 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. JenSpen

    Thank you Colby and CNN for airing this interview and helping raise awareness for this disease. It must have taken a lot of courage on Colby's part and his family to open their lives up to the public. We need to be supportive of anyone currently and unfortunately involved in the "mito world" as regardless of current severity of the disease, it is a life changing diagnosis. Colby your story is inspiring to me and gives me hope for my son (8) and two daughters (17 and 18) in various stages of diagnosis.

    December 7, 2011 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Lanes mom

    Colby, you are a hero to my 8 year old son thank you for giving him strength and showing him that you dont have to give up . He can relate to your story as he first learned about his weakness during T ball practice. He says he wants your autograph, hang in there and keep mitio in the media so we all know what we are fighting..... u r an inspiration.

    December 9, 2011 at 21:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Katy Howe

    Colby..... THANK YOU! Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your strength. Thank you for voice. Thank you for giving hope. Thank you for giving my daughter someone to look up to. Everyone's journey with Mitochondrial Disease is unique, as you know all too well. That's why debating who's symptoms are worse or better doesn't matter, we are connected by a disease.Your courage has given those with this disease a voice and raised awareness. You are an inspiration to our family. Our daughter, Audrey, got her diagnosis this past spring. We first learned of you, Colby, then. You began giving our family inspiration then. We have held strong to your perseverence with this disease. When we have felt overwhelmed, we think of your accomplishments, and it has gotten us through many days, many hours and countless moments. Some children look up to rockstars, models or professional athletes. I am so proud my daughter has you to look up to, as well as Dora the Explorer! Audrey will be three on Christmas Eve and there is no greater blessing than our children. Know that the Howe family supports you, is cheering you on and that your voice has done amazing things! Your life is an inspiration for us and the world! Although we have never met, you are a part of our family. Peace, Love & Prayers!

    December 10, 2011 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Colby

    Thank you so much everyone for all of the support. This is a step forward in the right direction for MITO and continuing publicity of all kinds will do big things for everyone's goal a CURE. if you do want to get in contact with me follow me on twitter or message me on facebook.
    Thank You and God Bless

    December 11, 2011 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. skssmommy

    I think this was an AWESOME article and thank you very much Colby for sharing!!


    January 17, 2012 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. s westfield

    Hey guys, join NCSA They're recruitting college athletes now Call now – 877-790-5289.

    February 11, 2012 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Mike G

    Without this story the disease would have been unknown to communities and people such as myself. I think CNN did a great job Raising Awareness for a disease many may not know about. People see this and research it. Many learn that the spectrum is vast in the lives that are effected by Mito, thats what the story was for to raise awareness. This is one young man that is using his gifts to help the cause, just because the story did not show the whole spectrum does not mean it was not effective. The more awareness the closer we are to a cure. People with mild cases such as this young man are one of many who are taking advantage of the gifts they have received in life to give back and help awareness. Go Colby and Go Cure for Mito.

    March 18, 2012 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Archana

    Nice.............but more information is needed to support this theory.

    April 2, 2012 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Archana

    Nice ................need more information in support of this study.

    April 2, 2012 at 00:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. David

    You are a sterling epmlxae of a person who has a calling and I pray the Lord gives you the strength to continue. My prayers go out for you and your family! I will be happy to donate any of our curriculum from Media Angels, for free. Just go to the catalog and let me know how I can assist you and your homeschooling! Hugs to you, you are an inspiration for us all.

    April 8, 2012 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Holly

    Just came across this article. I was recently diagnosed with mitochondrial disease. Like Colby, I'm an athlete. I also have been told my case is relatively mild....but when you lose most of your capacity to do the things you love, it doesn't feel that way. Thanks, Colby, for sharing your story. It's an encouragement and blessing to me. There's very little information out there about how to deal with this from an athletic standpoint. As for the critical comments...I realize these folks are in a lot of pain, but since I am also a journalist, I encourage you to please give constructive feedback. If you use that tone every time you feel an article doesn't t meet your expectations, I fear you will be the one to damage the cause. Also...this is Colby's unique situation. No one article can ever cover the complexities or full spectrum of this disease. But they can certainly be written in a way that lets people know there is more to the story.

    January 31, 2016 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Christine Bradley

      Hi Holly,
      My daughter has always loved running because it has given her great joy. Her whole life she had dreams of running in college at a D1 school. Her running times have gotten slower since her freshman year in high school. She was always saying her legs hurt. Each and every season the same thing and she would push through it. We have been to many doctors and she has gone through many tests. She is now a freshman in college running for a D1 school but is struggling. The team doctor thinks she might have Mitochondiral disease. She just had some more blood taken. She is going for genetic testing during her spring break. I would appreciate any advice or help.

      January 19, 2019 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
  34. zortilonrel

    Does your blog have a contact page? I'm having trouble locating it but, I'd like to send you an email. I've got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.


    December 24, 2020 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Arnold Shubin

    Howdy! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group? There's a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Many thanks


    January 8, 2021 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Cori Partyka

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your site? My blog is in the very same niche as yours and my visitors would truly benefit from some of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this okay with you. Regards!


    January 25, 2021 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Buy Instagram Likes

    I precisely needed to appreciate you once more. I'm not certain the things I could possibly have tried without the entire secrets contributed by you about such a problem. It actually was an absolute frightening dilemma in my position, but seeing this well-written tactic you processed that took me to cry over gladness. I'm just happy for this assistance as well as expect you know what an amazing job that you're undertaking instructing most people thru a web site. Most probably you have never met all of us.


    February 1, 2021 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. vasúti szállítmányozás Europa-Road Kft.

    Appreciate it for all your efforts that you have put in this. very interesting information.


    February 9, 2021 at 03:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Cardiff House Clearance

    Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!


    February 9, 2021 at 07:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. DreamProxies

    keep up the great piece of work, I read few articles on this web site and I conceive that your site is real interesting and has bands of wonderful information.


    February 15, 2021 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. BonusLikes Twitter Followers

    My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different web page and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to exploring your web page for a second time.


    February 26, 2021 at 05:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Boost Youtube Subscribers

    Hey! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with Search Engine Optimization? I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I'm not seeing very good results. If you know of any please share. Appreciate it!


    February 27, 2021 at 01:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. stornobrzinol

    Greetings! Very helpful advice on this article! It is the little changes that make the biggest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!


    May 14, 2021 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.