Jackson man receives MDA award

Monday, February 17, 2003

A Jackson man has been named recipient of the Muscular Dystrophy Association's 2003 Personal Achievement Award for MDA's Twin Rivers Chapter.

Initiated in 1992, the national awards program recognizes the accomplishments and community service of people with disabilities caused by any of the neuromuscular diseases in MDA's program. This year's winner is Don Diamond.

Diamond, 35, was diagnosed with Becker Muscular Dystrophy in 1979. Since then Don has been active with the MDA in its fight against neuromuscular disease.

In 1998, Diamond got a group of friends together to do what he loves most, fishing. They decided to hold a huge fish fry and invite friends. It quickly turned into an annual fund-raising event for MDA. Named "Fish For A Wish," this annual event continued for several years, raising over $4,500 for MDA in 2002.

Due to his disease, Diamond is not getting around as well as he used to and has since changed his event to take place indoors. This year a bowl-a-thon for MDA will be held instead of a fish fry at West Park Lanes on March 16. Diamond has arranged entertainment for the participants, secured sponsors for the event, and gathered silent auction items for this upcoming event.

His goal is to raise over $5,000 -- bringing his five-year total to over $20,000. Diamond can be reached at 335-4400 for more information.

Diamond has not let his disability take over his ability to keep working. He has been employed through a temp agency and MDA for two years. Diamond has been recognized with safety and perfect attendance awards at the temp agency.

He has also been recognized through MDA's regional office as setting consecutive records on jailbird recruitments for the MDA lock-up, held annually in Cape Girardeau and Jackson.

He has been involved as a visitor in our local MDA summer camp and volunteered at the annual telethon as well at lock-ups. Diamond also currently holds a part-time job as a cashier at a local convenience store.

"The accomplishments of individuals like Don underscore that people with disabilities make valuable contributions to their communities," said Lori Dobbs, Health Care Services coordinator. "He really embodies the spirit of the Personal Achievement Award, and we're extremely fortunate to have him representing our community."

Each of MDA's 150-plus chapters selects a local achievement award recipient from local nominees. All local award recipients are considered for the state award.

One of the 2003 state award recipients will be selected to receive MDA's 2004 National Personal Achievement Award. The national honoree will be announced on the broadcast of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon on Labor Day.

MDA's 2003 national award recipient is Amy Dunaway-Haney of Dayton, Ohio, a high school Spanish teacher and counselor.

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