A lifetime of broken bones can be the fate of those born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease. O.I. is a hereditary disorder of the bones present at the time a baby is born. It is a disease of the connective tissue characterized by extremely fragile bones and teeth.

Osteogenesis imperfecta can be inherited from an affected parent or, through gene mutation, an O.I. child can be born to parents with no recognizable signs of the disease. The disease strikes regardless of race, color or creed. Somewhere between 30,000-40,000 Americans are estimated to have brittle bone disease.

There is no early detection and no known cure for the disease. One of the more effective treatments of O.I. is "rodding," which involves orthopedic surgery to straightenand strengthen cripped and crooked limbs. With the help of unique orthotic devices, many I.O. children are out of their wheelchairs and walking for the first time.

The orthotic clinic at Stanford University Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, California, is the only place in the country providing a comprehensive package of mobility devices coupled with rehabilitation therapy for those handicapped by O.I. Recently, however, a similar O.I. clinic has been established at Children's Hospital National Medical Center here.

The O.I. Clinic at Children's provides general health care to between 400 and 500 families in the metropolitan area as well as O.I. families from other regions. Both Children's Hospital and the staff of the National Institutes of Health have pledged their services in setting up mobility treatment for O.I. victims and other handicapped groups.

The osteogenesis imperfecta clinic is just one of the many specialized services available at Children's Hospital. Like every other facility in the hospital, its doors are always open and its staff always ready to assist and treat the needy children of Our Town. The funds collected through "For the Love of Children" help keep those doors open for those who cannot afford the high cost of medical care but desperatly need it nonetheless.

Several area groups and employers got together this morning to send a message of concern to Children's Hospital. In all, nine civic-minded groups contributed $5,677.36 to the hospital's free care fund for needy children.

Leading the list today were "the men at the Adult Rehab Center" of the Salvation Army. They sent $11. a check for $19.36 came in from Wheeler Industries Inc. of Arlington. Employes of the Division of Organization and Personnel at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission remembered the children with a check for $22. The folks of the Land Aquisition Section of the Justice Department's Land and Natural Resources Division sent $28.

"Enclosed is our check for $300 which is our annual contribution to Children's Hospital," was the entire contents of a letter from Central Courier Systems Inc. in Silver Spring. Many thanks!

Employes at Jensen Manufacturing Co. Inc. in Alexandria collected $180 which was matched by the boss for a total of $360.

Two groups of old friends used our time-honored method to raise some big bucks. The Washington regional office of the Government Accounting Office, "as is our custom," raised $672 for Children's Hospital in lieu of exchanging Christmas cards. Using the same procedure, the committee staff of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations collected a sensational $1,565.

This is the fifteenth year that employes of the Silver Spring-based System Sciences Division of Computer Sciences Corp. has participated in its established custom of not exchanging holiday greeting cards with their fellow colleagues and instead contributing the money saved to Children's Hospital. That 15 year effort was crowned today by their donation of $2,700!

The $5,677.36 from those nine commendable groups boosts or shoebox total to $135,956.43 this morning.

That's a lot of money and a lot of help for the free care fund at Children's Hospital, but it's unfortunately almost $20,000 less than we had last year at this point. I'm still thinking about breaking records, however.

If you want to help Children's Hospital help needy youngsters, please send your tax-deductible check, made payable to Children's Hospital, to: Scott Chase, c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. I'll be here.