A supportive ‘blessing’ for Grand Haven girl

While a local musician might have been the star on the stage, 15-year-old Gina Twa soaked in her own limelight Monday night.
Kyle Moroney
Mar 7, 2012

A crowd of nearly 700 — from young kids to the young at heart — packed Grand Haven High School’s Performing Arts Center to hear The Garrett Borns Band play during a benefit concert in honor of Twa, an eighth-grader at White Pines Middle School.

Twa was diagnosed with dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase deficiency in December 2011. DLD is a type of “maple syrup urine disease” that is caused by mutations in the DLD gene and the inability to properly process certain amino acids, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Within a matter of a few days of becoming ill, Gina could not walk, talk, feed herself, and lift her head or her arm. Her “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” and eye blinks were her only means of communication.

After medical treatments and various physical, speech and occupational therapies, the 15-year-old Robinson Township girl returned to school on Feb. 13 after being away for just over two months.

“Thanks for coming,” the smiling girl said to the cheering crowd.

To see more photos from the concert, click here.

The benefit concert was organized by the White Pines eighth-grade Student Council in order to help the Twa family with hospital bills and other expenses related to Gina’s disorder.

Approximately $4,000 was raised from the concert, according to organizers.

“We want to try to help out her family because we know it’s been a hard time for them,” said 14-year-old Mikaela Kroll, one of the organizers. “We wanted to give them as much support as we could.”

As throngs of students and adults took their seats before the concert, Sue Constantine — one of Gina’s teachers at White Pines — was overwhelmed by the attendance at the concert.

“This is a total blessing,” she said. “This is about coming together and celebrating life. Our kids are precious.”

Borns recognized Gina and her family during the concert, saying the room was full of love and support for the young girl. As he talked to the crowd, a group of girls shouted: “We love you, Gina."

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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