Booting muscular dystrophy: Local firefighters begin annual campaign

Thursday, July 27, 2006

For Dean Lynn, the tradition of collecting money in rubber boots is personal.

Lynn, a Cape Girardeau firefighter and local union president, has lost two family members to Lou Gehrigs' disease.

Each year, he helps coordinate a local "Fill the boot" campaign to raise money for the local Muscular Dystrophy Association chapter.

From Google images

This year, Lynn said local firefighters will be at the Cape Girardeau Wal-Mart four times throughout August raising money for the MDA's telethon on Labor Day.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is a voluntary health agency -- a dedicated partnership between scientists and concerned citizens aimed at conquering neuromuscular diseases that affect more than a million Americans.

The money collected goes to the charity Jerry's Kids.

Last year, U.S. firefighters raised more than $20 million for the charity.

At the local MDA chapter, Rene Goodman said the money raised in Cape Girardeau is used to benefit local patients with neuromuscular diseases.

The Cape Girardeau office serves 38 counties in western Kentucky, Southern Illinois and Southeast Missouri. The money helps families with support groups, research, sends children to summer camps and pays for wheelchairs, clinic visits and leg braces, among other things, Goodman said.

It also helps support a monthly clinic in Cape Girardeau for patients or those who suspect they may have one of the 43 neuromuscular disease the MDA services.

"Depending on which one they have, the progession is different," Goodman said. "Each step is scary for parents and the child. They don't know what to expect. It totally changes their life, and the clinic helps them through the stages."

Goodman said about 330 patients are served by her office.

About muscular dystrophy

According to healthscout.com, there is no single disease called muscular dystrophy. The term designates a group of hereditary muscle-destroying disorders that vary in inheritance pattern, age of onset, initial muscles attacked and rate of progression.

The most common and severe type is Duchenne's muscular dystrophy (MD), in which a genetic defect leads to the formation of an abnormal type of muscle protein called dystrophin.

Symptoms and prognosis vary, depending on the type of MD. The disease may affect some or all muscles, may develop during childhood or adulthood, may progress gradually or rapidly, and may or may not be severely disabling.

Principal symptoms include:

* Progressive muscle wasting, weakness, and loss of function

* In Duchenne's MD, delayed development of basic muscle skills and coordination in children. Common signs include poor balance with frequent falls, walking difficulty with waddling gait and calf pain, and limited range of movement

* Obesity

* Joint contractures

* Cataracts, frontal baldness, drooping eyelids, gonadal atroph, and mental impairment (with myotonic dystrophy)

* Intellectual impairment (occurs in various types of MD)

There is no specific treatment to cure or halt MD. Physical therapy, exercise, orthopedic appliances (such as braces and wheelchairs), or corrective orthopedic surgery may help to preserve muscle function and prevent joint contractures as much as possible and improve quality of life.

cmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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