Gavin Miller was excited to learn how to play hockey, developing a passion for the game as a youngster that he shared with his mother, Karen. He joined a program in the area when he was just 4 years old.

Being out on the ice was fun, but Gavin soon realized skating caused him a lot of pain.

“At first I just told him ‘get back out there, you’re fine,’” Karen recalls. “But the pain kept getting worse, and then he developed a limp.”

That’s when Gavin received the diagnosis. Through a simple X-ray, doctors broke the news to Gavin’s parents that he suffered from a rare disease that affects the hips — Legg Calve Perthes. Physical therapy and surgery, over the course of the next two years followed, none of which had the desired affect the Miller’s had hoped.

According to Legg-Calve-Perthes disease occurs when blood supply is temporarily interrupted to the femoral head of the hip joint. Without sufficient blood flow, the bone begins to die — so it breaks more easily and heals poorly. The condition often leads to arthritis in the hip during adulthood and could require hip-replacement surgery.

Though caught at an early age, doctors have informed Karen that Gavin’s condition is pretty severe.

Karen found a Legg Calve Perthes specialist in Texas she is hopeful can save what’s left of the femoral head in Gavin’s leg.

“His is just not coming back like it’s supposed to,” she said. “The cost is a lot, but I have to do what’s best for him.”

To help raise funds, the Miller family is holding a spaghetti dinner fundraiser May 17 at the Eaton Area Senior Center, from 5 to 7 p.m. In addition to the dinner, attendees can participate in a 50/50 raffle, bake sale and silent auction.

Gavin’s last surgery required him to be in a double leg cast for seven weeks. This time around, Karen said doctors have advised that it may take at least six months before Gavin is able to bear any weight on his legs. She said that while Gavin doesn’t fully understand what he will go through, his spirits remain high.

“All he says is, ‘I don’t care if I get my cast as long as I get my wheelchair,’” Karen said.

He spent plenty of time in a wheelchair following his last surgery, and while he wants to play hockey like his mom, and football like his dad, Karen said he’s talked about developing other skills.

“The surgeon warned that he may never be able to play sports,” Karen said. “It’s pretty heartbreaking that he’s not going to be able to play T-ball this year.”

For more information about the spaghetti dinner, contact Karen Miller at (906) 748-4360.