According to a story from 10tv.com, Kelly Maynard could be hear cheering loudly from the sidelines as her son Jackson, aged 12, scored a touchdown in one of his middle school football games. Jackson has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare progressive disorder. Although he is relegated to a wheelchair, he nevertheless is a critical part of the Weaver Middle School 7th grade football team.
About Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a neuromuscular disease, and it is one of the more severe types of muscular dystrophy. It is characterized by progressive muscle weakness that usually begins around age four and worsens quickly. As an X-linked genetic disease, boys are mostly affected, with girls only occasionally displaying mild symptoms. The disease is caused by mutations of the dystrophin gene. Symptoms of Duchenne muscular dystrophy include falling, abnormal walking posture, eventual loss of walking ability, muscle fiber deformities, intellectual disability (not in all cases), enlargement of the tongue and calf muscles, skeletal deformities, muscle atrophy, heart abnormalities, and difficulty with breathing. Treatment includes a variety of medications and therapies that can help alleviate symptoms and slow disease progression. Lifespan is usually into the thirties with good care. Better treatments for this disease are urgently needed. To learn more about Duchenne muscular dystrophy, click here.
Jackson doesn’t talk much and tries to downplay his role on the team, but his fellow teammates do not.
“Jackson is very supportive of all of us and we all love having him on the team,” teammate Travis Smith says.
Jackson is primarily involved from the sidelines, cheering on and encouraging the other players, who love seeing him get pumped up and have fun. The team’s coach, David Swallie, makes it clear that it is important for Jackson to be a part of the group and that the team simply wouldn’t be the same without him.
During that game, Jackson made history. His number was called, and he moved out onto the field in his powerchair. Then, going as fast as his machine was able, he made a touchdown.
Kelly has started an organization called the Little Hercules Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients and their families. Learn more about it here.