'La Equis' lights up for Fragile X

Border icon part of illuminating syndrome


You’ve surely seen the big red “X” south of the border in Juarez, as you’re driving along Interstate 10 near downtown El Paso.

At 8 p.m. July 22, the red “X,” a structure known as “La Equis,” will light up in the color teal, thanks to the efforts of Mesilla’s Mary Lee Bailey Shelton.

“Our effort is one of more than 400 illuminations around the world,” Shelton said of the event, which is designed to shine light on Fragile X Syndrome, a condition affecting millions, including her son, Spencer.

Even Niagra Falls will be aglow in teal, the official color of FRAXA Research Foundation.

Fragile X Syndrome is “the most common form of genetically inherited intellectual disability and most common cause of autism,” Shelton said, but added the condition “is completely unknown to the vast majority of the world.”

“We are proud that we are the first city in all of Mexico to illuminate a monument for Fragile X Day,” said Leticia Villalobos, president of Club Rotario Juarez Campestre, of which Shelton is a member. The illumination is being coordinated by the club and Ciudad Juarez.

“And to know that our club is illuminating an actual X is so meaningful,” Shelton said, “a uniquely Fragile X icon!”

Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disorder that occurs when a single gene on the X chromosome shuts down, Shelton said. “This gene makes a protein needed for normal brain development. In Fragile X Syndrome it does not work properly, the protein is not made, and the brain does not develop as it should. The disability has been detected in all populations and ethnic groups across the world,” she said.

“Our son, Spencer, has mild intellectual disabilities (he is able to read and write), some anxiety and poor eye contact,” Shelton said, “and no discernible physical characteristics. He is able to drive and hold a job.

“My goal is for the millions of people living in the Borderland to see the X July 22 and wonder why (it) suddenly morphed into a different color,” Shelton said. “I hope they will learn it’s because it is World Fragile X Day, learn what Fragile X is and understand it was lit because Club Rotario Juarez Campestre cares.”

Visit www.fraxa.org and www.facebook.com/RotarioJuarezCampestre.

Fragile-X, La Equis, Mary Lee Bailey Shelton, FRAXA Research Foundation