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Little Rock 'stars' dance to raise thousands for Children's Tumor Foundation

Little Rock "stars" dance to cure neurofibromatosis, raise thousands for the Children's Tumor Foundation. (Photo KATV)

On Monday, September 12, a new season of Dancing with the Stars airs on ABC, but the Thursday before, six Little Rock "stars" competed in a local event to raise money for the Children's Tumor Foundation.

Channel 7's Stacey Spivey was one of the dancers that helped raise $200,000 to go toward research for neurofibromatosis or NF.

About one out of every 3,000 kids battles NF and about 250 kids in Arkansas. It's a chronic disorder that forms tumors throughout the body.

Kathleen Sullivan is a mother to two of those kids, and her husband also has NF.

"My husband was misdiagnosed all of his life until Mark was born," Sullivan said. She said coffee colored spots began showing up on Mark's body when he was nine months old.

At 12-year-old Mark, had his first large tumor and first major surgery.

"We were lucky and they got it all, but it was scary. Yeah it was scary," Sullivan said.

Dr. Gregory Sharp is the Chief of Neurology at Children's Hospital, and he said mostly tumors are benign, but that's not always the case. He said sometimes NF kids have learning disabilities, vision loss and hearing loss. Some will even go through chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.

"Others have a very high burden of lesions and so as they get older they get larger and they get more numerous and they can cause pain," Sharp said.

Dr. Sharp said it's different for everyone and there's still no cure...yet.

"That's the problem..there's not much treatment," Sharp said.

"For them, this is forever. Until death. This will not change," Sullivan said.

This is where the CTF steps in and helps Arkansas families put on a fight against this disorder. All money raised in Little Rock's Dancing with Our Stars goes to Arkansas kids with NF. It can help pay for NF kids to go to Utah for NF summer camp.

It's a camp that Mark said gave him hope to move forward.

"I can't give up because if I give up, everything I've done previously is pointless," Mark said.

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