FLORENCE, S.C. – A Lamar man was diagnosed 10 years ago with a rare neuromuscular disease.

To help, Cooks for Christ is hosting a benefit for Darrell Hickson, 70, on Thursday at the West Florence Fire Station on Pine Needles Road in Florence.

Hickson worked in the auto parts business for years and then worked at CP&L for 19 years and Blanchard Machinery for five years. At the age of 60, he was diagnosed with stiff person syndrome or Moersh-Woltman syndrome.

The debilitating disease is so rare that only one in a million suffer from it.

So far, the disease has only affected his back and legs, causing his back and leg muscles to stiffen so tightly that they feel as if they will break. If not treated, the bones can break.

Hickson has not been able to drive for several years now and is in a wheelchair. He desires a handicapped wheelchair van in order to load his motorized wheelchair and also be able to drive and give him some independence. Also, structural changes need to be done to his home to accommodate his needs.

The cause of the disease is not known, and there is no cure. Sometimes it takes years for a diagnosis.

It is also classified as an auto-immune disease. The body builds up antibodies against itself, and although Hickson looks normal on the outside, the disease wreaks havoc on the inside. The antibodies affect the neurotransmitters in the brain that sends messages to the back and legs.

Hickson was disabled two months after being diagnosed in early 2010. He has fallen 12 times since, and one of those times he broke his shoulder.

At the Cooks for Christ benefit, lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner will be served from 4 to 7 p.m. The menu consists of chicken bog, green beans, slaw and bread.

Drive-through lanes will be open, and a bake sale will be held all day.

Plates cost $8 each. Lunch and dinner can be delivered for orders of seven or more plates. To schedule a delivery, complete a delivery form and fax or email according to instructions provided on the form. The form can be found at facebook.com/CooksforChristFlorenceSC/.

To donate, make checks payable to the Darrell Hickson Medical Fund.

For additional information, contact Derman Hodge at 843-662-2423, Grace Baptist Church at 843-662-5122 or Beverly McKee at 843-229-0348.

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