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Cole Flack of Oregon received his diagnosis of juvenile dermatomyositis in February 2007, roughly four-and-a-half years after my daughter, Thing 1, received hers.

In the years that followed, this teenager with a love of sports and being outdoors lost his ability to walk. Cole endured multiple abdominal surgeries to deal with gastrointestinal issues caused by the disease and its medicinal treatments. Yet as recently as the fall, he still managed a full course load at school and compiled a 4.0 GPA.

Earlier this month, Cole went into the hospital with pneumonia.

Last week, we received this e-mail written by his parents:

“Hello friends and family,
Cole went to be with the Lord at 7 p.m. tonight. It was very peaceful. Cole is free now to run … jump … play baseball … everything a 15 year old boy should be able to do. …”

Cole is the third child with a form of juvenile myositis that our family has come to know since Thing 1’s diagnosis to die from this rare autoimmune disease or its complications.

Three.

When only three in a million children are diagnosed annually in the United States with this disease, that little number grows exponentially in your worried head every time your child coughs or sneezes or scraps a knee.

Please help prevent more deaths of children like Cole by voting today and tomorrow to help Cure JM, the only national nonprofit dedicated to supporting children with juvenile myositis and their families, win a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant.

That $250,000 equals half our volunteer group’s annual budget, a budget raised solely through fundraising done by the family and friends of JM children. Every penny of that grant is set to pay for research into finding the cause and cure of juvenile myositis, juvenile dermatomyositis and other forms of JM diseases.

After bouncing around the top 2 spots for a while this month, we fell to No. 3 a few minutes ago. We need to get back to the Top 2 by Sept. 1 to win that money and honor Cole.