Logan and Clayton McCaskill

On Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, EVMS joined with other academic health centers, healthcare groups and organizations around the country to recognize Rare Disease Day.

To show its support for a larger campaign of awareness-building, EVMS changed the outdoor lights illuminating Waitzer Hall to a rainbow-inspired theme.

According to the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD), “Rare Disease Day is an internationally recognized day and initiative to raise awareness, generate support and advocate for care and treatments for the 300 million people globally, including 1 in 10 Americans who are living with a rare disease. It takes place annually on the last day of February, which this year is February 29 – the rarest day of the year.”

For Kathryn McCaskill, MHA Class of 2025, the day holds special meaning, rooted in the memory of her late son, Clayton McCaskill. (Pictured above, right, with his brother, Logan.)

“His short journey with us was marked by the challenges of pulmonary vein stenosis and ATR-X syndrome, two rare conditions," says McCaskill, who encouraged EVMS to participate in NORD’s efforts this year. "Our family's experience underscores the urgent need for advocacy in healthcare equity, social opportunities and access to therapies for those affected by rare diseases." 

As an MHA student graduating in 2025, "my journey intertwines with my commitment to shape the future of healthcare, emphasizing inclusivity and equity," she adds. "EVMS' decision to illuminate Waitzer Hall becomes not only a symbolic tribute to Clayton's memory but also a recognition of the myriad journeys of individuals impacted by rare diseases.”

Find out more at rarediseases.org.