GHS swimmer to raise more money for his sister’s rare disease

Kati Harrington looks up to her big brother, Michael Ardito.

GUILDERLAND — Guilderland High School senior Michael Ardito is preparing to make his fourth and final annual swim across Boston Harbor this weekend, to raise money to find a cure for the rare disease that affects his younger sister, Kati.

Ardito, 17, has raised a total of more than $25,000 in donations to research into a cure for the little-known HAE, or hereditary angioedema, in his past three swims. He will not be participating next year because he will be away at college. He hopes to study marine biology at Florida Tech and be part of its swim team, said Nicole Harrington, Michael and Kati’s mother.

HAE is a genetic disorder causing chemical imbalances that can result in swelling in various parts of the body including, hands; feet; face; and, most dangerously, the airway.

Ardito has also traveled to Washington, D.C. during each of the past two years to meet with members of Congress on behalf of the HAE Association to discuss the need for more funding for research.

This year, the first pediatric treatment drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Ardito’s sister, Kati Harrington, 7,  has had multiple HAE attacks since then, according to Ardito’s father, Gary Ardito, and she has been able to use the newly approved medication.

This month, Ardito will join a panel of HAE doctors, patients, and advocates in a first-ever meeting with the FDA to discuss the need for additional medications and treatment options.

Whenever Kati has an attack, her family needs to rush her to Albany Medical Center for an infusion of the medication. There is no medication currently approved for use in children designed to prevent attacks from happening, although there are two medications used prophylactically with adults, said Nicole Harrington, who said she hopes to see this use extended to children.

This year, Ardito will be joined on the Sharkfest Swim for HAE by friend and fellow Guilderland varsity swim team member Luke Tanner, who has taken part with him before, as well as by two other members of the varsity team, Jordyn Sommo and Alex Cresanti.

For more information on the swim across Boston Harbor and Michael Ardito’s fundraising efforts, visit give.everydayhero.com/us/sharkfest-2017.

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