A chant for “Nadia! Nadia! Nadia!” could be heard on the Valencia High School track as biodegradable green balloons were released into the air.
Those green balloons represented awareness for mitochondrial disease, or Mito, a very rare disorder that occurs when the mitochondria of the cell fail to produce enough energy to function — a disease that VHS junior and choir member Nadia Maciejewski has.
Sunday marked VHS Choir’s inaugural Mito Walk & Roll event, held to raise awareness for Mito and support Maciejewski.
“(Nadia’s) been wanting to go to a walk (to support those with Mito), and I know it’s a little hard for her to get all the way down to L.A., so we figured why not do one here and have all (her) friends come and support (her),” senior and choir Co-President Mia Lucero-Garcia said.
After completing a number of laps themselves, the VHS choir performed a variety of songs for their fellow participants.
“We love to sing together, but more than that, the reason why we’re here today is because Nadia joined our choir and she is a huge part of our family,” Choir Director Christine Mocha said. “We love her so much, and so this is for her.”
The walk not only showed support for Maciejewski, but also allowed choir members to exemplify their mission statement: “Inspire, uplift and cultivate community.”
“That’s our goal — it’s not just to make music,” Mocha added. “This is not only to inspire her, but it uplifts us, and there is no bigger community than your friends, especially ones that you make music with and sing with, so we are so grateful that we get to do this together today.”
This is Maciejewski’s third year as a choir member, a group she considers her family.
“It’s just such a great community, and I’ve been completely accepted just for who I am,” she said. “I feel extremely supported, and I’m just so glad that everyone came together and is doing this for me.”
Though it’s the first time the choir has hosted this event, both Lucero-Garcia and her Co-President Kaylee Brewis are hoping to make it an annual occurrence.
“It’s been in the making for quite a few months, but it all came together at the last second,” said Brewis, a senior. “It was a pretty big turnout, (and) we’re pretty happy with how it went.”
Proceeds from the walk are expected to go toward MitoAction, a nonprofit whose mission is to improve the quality of life for those affected by the disease, and VHS choir.