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Rosemount Middle School students have records in their sights

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Rosemount Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

A year ago, a group of Rosemount Middle School students put together a community carnival that raised more than $1,000 for Children's Hospital and helped them win a global title in the academic competition Destination ImagiNation.

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All things considered, it was a pretty good performance. But they think they can do better.

This year's version of the group, slightly modified from the one that competed last year, wants to set world records. And they'd like to do their part to conquer a deadly disease.

The six seventh graders will hold a 24-hour swim marathon March 16 and 17 in the RMS pool. They hope to draw a record 1,024 swimmers. They also hope to set records for most swimmers in a leprechaun costume and most swimmers with temporary tattoos.

The girls submitted their proposed records to the Guinness Book of World Records and hoped to hear back this week whether the book will accept them. They plan to have video cameras and timing pads on hand to verify the records.

"We wanted to do something over the top, so we're gonna break some world records," said group member Anna Peterson.

The record breaking is all for a good cause. The girls will donate the money they raise to efforts to cure Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy. The genetic condition causes bodies to atrophy. People who suffer from the disease usually need a wheelchair by the time they're 12 and most die in their late teens or early 20s.

The girls found out about the disease because a friend of a friend has it. They've done a lot of research into it since then. They learned that muscular dystrophy gets only a fraction of the funding it should, based on the number of people who have the disease.

"Breast cancer and all cancers are getting so much money, but Duchenne is getting one third of what it should be getting," said Anna Wise, another member of the group.

The girls have also sought out other muscular dystrophy patients to hear their stories. They connected with one patient who is in his early 20s, and with another who is 2 years old. Their minds are filled with information about muscular dystrophy, from the number of people affected by the disease to its effects to the drugs that are used to treat it.

"It opened our eyes to see bigger and better things," Wise said. "To see this really does affect people and we're going to do something to help."

They hope to visit the Muscular Dystrophy Association's research lab at the University of Minnesota.

The idea for a swim marathon came up because all six team members are swimmers. Swimming is also one of the best exercises for muscular dystrophy patients, and both of the patients the girls met plan to participate.

The event is part of the project outreach category for Destination ImagiNation. Teams are required to create a fundraising event and promote it using social media. The girls have created a website for their project at swim2win4md.com and they've created a Facebook event.

Marathon participants will be asked to contribute at least $5 for a 20-minute window. Members of the DI team will swim the first laps and the last laps and as many as they need in between to keep things going.

The top three fundraisers will get prizes from the MDA.

There is still a lot of work to do before the swim marathon gets under way. As of Sunday the girls had gotten about 50 registrations for the event. They plan to spread the word with the RHS swim teams and at businesses around Rosemount.

They're enthusiastic about the project, though. They're excited for the opportunity to help people.

"We hope we can change lives," team member Katie Turner said.

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