INDIANA, Pa. (KDKA) -- An Indiana County couple is hoping you can help their son have a fighting chance against a disease that he was diagnosed with just this year.
Zander Marshall is like most kids. He loves his toys -- especially his tractors.
"He rides his tractor every day. He wakes up dreaming about tractors," said mom Jenna Marshall.
While most toddlers can play for long periods of time, 2-year-old Zander gets tired quickly and lays down. This is just one symptom of a very rare disease he's fighting.
"SURF1-related Leigh syndrome, one of the most common versions of mitochondrial disease that most people would get," said dad Patrick Marshall.
Over Memorial Day weekend this year, Zander started throwing up and shaking. The bizarre behavior had his parents, Jenna and Patrick Marshall, travel to a Pittsburgh hospital where testing was done and in a matter of hours, they were told the diagnosis.
Doctors said it's unlikely Zander would make it to his 3rd birthday.
"They're like, 'hey, you can see the charts here, the news isn't good.' Kids who have this have a really limited outlook on life and their abilities will be lost," said Patrick Marshall.
The news was devastating. But through heartbreak, they found hope.
"I ended up getting in contact with the Cure Mito founder, which was super helpful because their child also has this and had been working on a cure, the gene therapy cure, since 2018," Patrick said.
Since Zander's diagnosis, it has been a race against time. The longer they wait, his condition worsens.
"I am determined, like, I need somebody out there to help us," said Jenna Marshall.
The couple says the support from their small community of Indiana has been incredible. In just a few months, almost $200,000 was raised for the Cure Mito Foundation. And while every donated dollar matters, they need more -- a lot more: $2.5 million will get Zander in the clinical trials in Texas, so he has a fighting chance.
"I don't wanna stop. I'm not gonna stop. I know it's a lot and I'm grateful for everybody's support, but I gotta keep going," said Jenna said.
And while their focus right now is raising as much money as possible, they're also making sure to remain positive, for Zander.
"I pray that he has a mild case of it and that his quality of life will be better than what the outcome is," Jenna said.
To donate, click here.
for more features.