KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Rare Disease Day is an annual awareness day dedicated to elevating the public’s understanding of rare diseases and calling attention to the special challenges people face.

Kerri Engebrecht, a mom and daughter of rare disease and a resident of Knoxville, shared why this cause hits so close to home.

“In December of 2015 I joined a group of moms I never knew existed and that I now could never live without rare disease moms,” Engebrecht said. “Our, then-12-year-old son was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease, after a relatively short, but very traumatic diagnostic journey for answers on what was making our son so ill.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, a disease is rare if it affects less than 200,000 people in the United States. More than 25 million Americans live with a rare disease and nearly half of these patients are children. For the more than 7,000 known rare diseases, 90% are still without FDA-approved treatments.

In honor of Rare Disease Day, Engebrecht will host a resource fair at Knoxville’s Lawson McGhee Library located at 500 West Church Avenue at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25. The event is open to the public.

Those interested or if an organization is one that could be of service to those with rare diseases, please contact Engebrecht directly at

Rare Disease Day is celebrated world-wide on the last day of February each year. In 2023 it will be celebrated on Tuesday, February 28.