Baseball Star Johnny Damon Gives UF Money to Build Lab on Remote Viking Island

As far as mash-ups go, this is one for the books. 

Johnny Damon -- the former long-haired, free-rocking, super-awesome Boston Red Sox outfielder turned short-haired, lame-o Yankee turned Cleveland Indian, ugh, Cleveland -- has decided to donate a bunch of money through his foundation so that the University of Florida can set up a research station on the Faroe Islands. 

Don't know where or what the Faroe Islands are? Don't worry; you're not alone. Forgot that Damon had a season with the Tampa Bay Rays? Yeah, you're not alone on that one either.

Situated between Norway and Iceland, the Faroe Islands are 540 square miles of brutal winters and Viking history. But this remoteness is what makes it appealing to the University of Florida. 

According to a news statement, the relatively homogeneous population of Viking descendants provides scientists with a great sample population to study how genetic diseases are transmitted through generations. The Florida researchers will be focusing on glycogen storage disorder type III, a rare ailment that afflicts one in 100,000 people in the U.S. but one in 3,000 people in the Faroe Islands. 

Damon definitely scores some good-guy points, because the university makes it clear that he has "no connection to the disease" and is writing a $16,000 check just to help the research along. 

That's great, because it's a brutal disease. From the news release:  

Type III glycogen storage disease is one of the rarest forms of the disease and is linked to all the places where the Vikings settled more than 1,000 years ago. The disease occurs because of a genetic glitch that prevents children's bodies from properly processing glycogen, stored sugar the body uses as fuel throughout the day. In children with this disease, stored sugar accumulates in the liver and muscles, including the heart, often causing it to grow so large it cannot function.

Maybe Damon should help raise public awareness of the disease by going back to his long-haired, bearded Viking look.

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