COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — For Ohio State Buckeye fans, there’s only one thing to think about this weekend: conquering Notre Dame.
Although most scarlet- and gray-clad football fans don’t want to think about what happened with that team up north in November 2021, the parents of an Upper Arlington boy named Landon want their son’s viral gameday moment in Ann Arbor to happen again.
“I mean, you never know until you try, and why not try everything?” Mike and Jaren McChesney said.
Landon, a 6-year-old boy with tubulin folding cofactor D, or TBCD — a gene mutation that prevents him from walking or talking, the McChesneys said. The mutation is so rare that there are only 28 known patients diagnosed with in across the world, and doctors told Landon he wasn’t supposed to live past the age of 4.
But with Landon’s rare diagnosis comes hefty costs. Last November, the McChesneys, who were self-funding medical research through their non-profit LandOnACure, needed $50,000 to enroll Landon in a California gene therapy study
To make a dent in the payment, Mike McChesney thought, “What’s better than getting on television, having a mini-commercial, if you will?”
The couple designed “Help My Son” posters plastered with a photo of Landon and a call-out to the family’s Venmo account (@Landon614) where generous football-goers could donate to the cause.
To the McChesneys’ luck, the poster made it on live television in a sea of football fans cheering behind ESPN’s “College GameDay” news anchors.
Their Venmo account flooded with more than $50,000 in donations, securing Landon a spot in a gene study at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.
“You were the one who said it was crazy the first time,” I laughed pointing to Jaren. “I know I know, I stand corrected, I am all about it.”
The McChesneys hit the biological jackpot — the donations helped them get into the California study, which has already produced eight potential viable drugs to treat Landon’s condition.
And the Nationwide Children’s study has already produced the exact replica of Landon’s gene mutation.
“We won’t stop until we find something,” Jaren McChesney said. “We’re in this for the long haul.”
With the Buckeyes poised to play Notre Dame on Saturday, the McChesneys are considering whether Landon — who loves an audience — will make an appearance.
“This is our next gameday experience, so a lot of people are asking, ‘Is Landon going to make an appearance, what’s the plan?’” Jaren McChesney said.
But the McChesneys remain tight-lipped.
“Stay tuned,” Jaren McChesney said. “You have to stay tuned.”