Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect a correction. A fundraiser at Downtown Pizza will be held Wednesday, not Thursday.
There's no stopping Rachael Anne Pipp, a Port Washington resident diagnosed with mitochondrial disease at age 16, who — in the last three months — has raised another $5,000 towards the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation’s.
Pipp is the top fundraiser the Energy for Life Walkathon in Milwaukee on Saturday, and has gone door-to-door in Port promoting the event and collecting donations.
"It was hard, tiring (but) I liked going door-to-door and just talking about it," Pipp said. The additional fundraising brings her total donations to UMDF to $8,000.
"It wasn't easy — she pushed herself to do it," said Mary Pipp, Rachael's mom.
Mitochondrial disease affects energy-producing organs found in just about every cell in the human body, causing those organs to have trouble converting food and oxygen into energy, according to the UMDF website. A big problem for people with mito is battling weakness and fatigue, Mary Pipp said.
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But Pipp doesn't let her disease get her down. In fact, she was presented with the LEAP award from the UMDF while attending the organization's conference in June in Washington D.C.
LEAP stands for Living, Encouraging, Achieving and Persisting, and Pipp said she got the award "for being positive — living positive with the disease, and having a positive attitude."
"Rachael's vibrant spirit inspires all those around her," a pamphlet from the conference says. "She does not allow mitochondrial disease to dampen her joy of life. While suffering with the effects of the disease, Rachael is constantly giving her time and talents to her fundraising efforts and to others."
Mary and Rachael also operate Art Oasis in Cedarburg, a place where artists with disabilities can interact with each other while creating art to sell for a charity of their choosing. The business donates all proceeds to charity, and recently added Birthday Parties to its list of services. (Learn more.)
"It's just unbelievable what she's accomplished," Mary Pipp said. "Thank you to all the people in Port Washington who donated."
Donations also came from businesses, including a monetary donation from Tellos Grill and Cafe, and the two are also working out details with Sweetheart Cakes for a possible food donation. Bagels are being donated by Big Apple Bagels and Brueger's Bagels for Saturday's walk, and Trader Joe's donate a bag of granola bars.
On Wednesday night, Downtown Pizza in Grafton will donate 10 percent of sales to the cause from people who present a coupon. Mary and Rachael will be at the restaurant around 6 p.m. to hand out coupons.