Starting at 6 p.m. Feb. 20, the benefit will include dinner at $8 a plate for adults and $5 for children ages six to 12 with those five and under free. Two live bands, gospel and country, will entertain, and a silent auction will offer an additional opportunity to contribute to HelpStopOPCA for the diagnosis and treatment of a degenerative brain disease.
Mrs. Davis, and some of her cousins, including Billy Cannon, have inherited olivoponto cerebellar atrophy, or OPCA. OPCA is a condition which first appears after the individual is age 30 and may be married with children. Trembles, uncontrolled shaking, or stumbles may be the first indicators. As the cerebellum deteriorates, hearing loss occurs, muscle spasms rack the patient, eye disorders rob sight, and slowly, over an agonizing 20-year period, the disease robs its subject of independence, dignity, and finally, before the age of 60, life.
“I remember when those big drink mugs were new,” Mrs. Dodd told The Mirror. “My sister had the disease and I bought her one of the big mugs with a straw so she could drink.”
“She could not hold a glass to drink because she shook too much,” she continued.
OPCA transfers through the generations genetically, and potentially offers 50-50 odds that it will strike the children.
For instance, Pam Dodd’s grandparents had five children and all four of the girls inherited the disease. The girls were Lois (Mrs. Harold) Meadows, Marie Lloyd Martindale, Mavon Nix, and Louvenna “Lou” Shelby. Among 10 children born to these sisters, seven of their children have OPCA.
Lois Meadows’ daughter Opal had a son, Billy Cannon, before she died with OPCA, and Billy has started showing the signs.
Mrs. Martindale had two children: Pam and Carolyn, and Tina is Carolyn’s daughter who has OPCA. Her sister, Angela Fulton, is helping sponsor the dinner dance along with Pam Dodd and KYKX-FM 105.7 radio.
Tina Davis lives in Oklahoma City, had two children and a career, and was a coach of her daughter’s volleyball team when the symptoms started occurring in 1999. What began as tremors now have spread to hearing loss and vertigo. The tremors are both interior and exterior.
In the United States, few people, including neurologists, have any familiarity with the condition. There are no definitive tests for OPCA. Since there is no standard treatment protocol, medical insurance will not cover the care. Friends found there is a treatment in China at a cost of $30,000 for a month of care for her and with her husband accompanying her on the trip.
Anyone seeking tickets or further information may contact Pam Dodd, 903-734-5798, Angie Fulton, 903-424-4604, and Judson Miers, 405-788-9103.