Football Helps to Fight to End Duchenne

Courtney Garloff, Print Editor

For one weekend in September over 500 schools and their football teams will join together to fight a common and fatal enemy: Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

High schools, colleges and universities across the country will unite to support Coach to Cure Muscular Dystrophy Sept. 27 and 28.

Duchenne is a specific form of muscular dystrophy, a muscle wasting disease, that affects young boys.

“Muscular Dystrophy is the big umbrella title, the big disease, like cancer is, while Duchenne is the specific type,” said Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy Parent Advocate Perlita Hains.

On Saturday, Sept. 28 when the football team faces Wilkes University at 1 p.m. on Mangelsdorf Field, spectators will have the opportunity before, during and after the game to donate to Duchenne research and to find a cure for the disease.

This year marks the sixth for the Coach to Cure games across the country. All games will happen on the same day, either Friday night for high schools or Saturday for colleges and universities.

Penn State University, Lycoming College, Albright College, and Auburn University are just some of the other schools participating in this year’s event.

All students, staff and family who wish to donate can text “cure” to the number 9099, and a $5 donation charge will be added to their next phone bill.

Donors don’t have to attend the game that day – just text message or go online to donate.

“It’s a great and easy way to donate. Almost everyone has a cellphone and the entire $5 donation goes towards Duchenne research,” said Hains.

The Coach to Cure games were started by a woman whose son was diagnosed with Duchenne and wanted to raise money through the game her son loved, football. With help from her football coach brother, they started hosting a game to raise money and awareness for Duchenne.

Last year over 10,000 college coaches and a record-setting 580 institutions from across the nation joined the fight against Duchenne, according to CoachTo- CureMD.org.

“On that day you will see coaches from all over the country on TV. They will all be wearing the same Coach to Cure patch to show their support,” said Hains.

Over the past five years the Coach to Cure games have raised over $1 million for Duchenne research.

Coach to Cure is a partnership between the American Football Coaches Association, a profes- sional organization for over 10,000 college football coaches and staff, and the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a parent run organization, the largest national  charity devoted exclusively to help find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

To become a Coach to Cure game, all a school has to do is sign up. This is Misericordia’s first year.

“This is the cause that college coaches have chosen to take under their wing,” said Hains.

Cheerleaders are also getting involved by carrying cans and asking around for donations from spectators.

“It always feels good to help out people and help raise money for charity,” said sophomore physical therapy major and cheerleader Kelly Keener.

“I know people who are affected by MD, so knowing how this will help a lot of people really makes it worth it,” said Keener.

Hains’s seven-year-old son Levi has been battling Duchenne since he was two.

“He is the sweetest little guy and melts the hearts of everyone he meets,” said Hains. “Over time Levi’s muscles will waste away, and your heart is a muscle and it will affect his heart.”

According to The Mayo Clinic, Muscular Dystrophy is a group of genetic diseases in which muscle fibers are unusually susceptible to damage and breakage, and wear over time.

These damaged muscles become progressively weaker. There are 40 different types of Muscular Dystrophy, and Duchenne is the most severe form. The disease affects one in every 3,500 boys. Over 20,000 boys nationwide are currently living with the disease, according to CureDuchenne.org.

Most boys affected by Duchenne have to be in a wheelchair between ages eight and 12. Duchenne has a 100% fatality rate and is typically diagnosed in boys ages three to seven.

Even simple things like playing outside, walking and eating become increasingly more difficult as the disease worsens.

“When Levi runs around his little muscles are deteriorating at an alarming rate,” said Hains.

Because Duchenne is a muscle destroying disease, those who have it can appear to be normal little boys, but inside they are not.

“He may look normal on the outside but his muscles are not. They are far from normal,” said Hains.

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