Woman holds raffle for family of little girl diagnosed with rare autoimmune disease


SOUTH BOSTON, Va. (WSET) -- A woman who got through a family hardship with community support is now paying it forward.

There will be a raffle, where you can buy tickets to try and win cash prices, but will also send money to a family in need.

A family in South Boston found out their daughter has a rare autoimmune disease, that makes it difficult for her to walk, but each raffle ticket for the event can get her one step closer to having the treatment she needs.

It's been a long road getting four-year-old Savannah to where she is today.

"A lot of things were a struggle for her," said Catherine Knutti, Savannah's mother. "Playing on the playground, walking up steps, even something as little as sitting on the floor and trying to get back up."

Catherine said she knew there was something serious going on with their daughter during a family outing last year.

"When we were at the fair last October she got off a ride and she was struggling to walk she got extremely tired and she was kind of wobbling," said Liza Griffin, who is helping Catherine and her family.

She was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease known as JDM, which stands for Juvenile Dermatomyositis.

JDM is a disease in children that causes a skin rash and muscle inflammation, resulting in weak muscles.

Griffin said she also has a daughter facing health problems.

"I had a baby that was born prematurely at 25 weeks and she weighed less than a pound and had to spend six months in the hospital," she said.

During that time, Griffin said the South Boston community rallied together to hold a benefit for her family.

"I couldn't necessarily repay them financially, what they gave to us, but I told them that one day I'd be able to give back and do that for another family," Griffin said, which she's now doing for the Knutti family to help little Savannah and her family.

She reached out to Catherine on Facebook after seeing her post that her daughter was diagnosed with JDM.

There are businesses that have raffle tickets in town including Eclipse Hair Studio in Riverdale and Alignments Plus in Clarksdale.

There is no cure for JDM.

Savannah has a few more treatments left and Catherine hopes her daughter will go into remission.

The raffle drawing will be Sunday, April 8, but the location has yet to be decided, the drawings will be live on Liza's Facebook page.

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