The citizens of Cincinnati know one universal truth: that the annual Flying Pig Marathon weekend will bring fun, family, and fulfillment to their city. And with that universal truth comes another: that Diego Ramirez, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), will once again cross the finish line with his friends and family.
First launched in 1999, the Flying Pig Marathon aims to run an engaging sporting event for people of all ages, backgrounds, and ability levels. According to reporting from WLWT, 18-year-old Ramirez and his family have been participating for 12 years. Ramirez, who hopes to become an interior designer with a focus on accessible spaces, uses mobility aids. To complete the marathon, his friends and family—Team Diego—push him along the 26.2 mile course in an adult jogger.
Finishing the marathon is an accomplishment in itself. But, shares Diego, perhaps the most rewarding element of participating is reminding others that they can complete any goal they put their mind to.
What is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)?
Inherited in an autosomal, X-linked recessive pattern, Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a genetic disorder and one of nine forms of muscular dystrophy. The gene mutations that cause DMD prevent the muscles from creating dystrophin. Normally, dystrophin keeps your muscle cells strong and in-tact. Without dystrophin, the muscles weaken significantly. Eventually, this can lead to heart and respiratory weakness.
Because of its pattern of inheritance, DMD is more common in boys (1 in every 3,500 male births) than girls (1 in every 50 million female births). Symptoms usually begin in early childhood, before 6 years old. These may include:
- Difficulty jumping, running, walking, or moving positions
- Muscle weakness that begins in the legs, pelvis, and thighs
- Frequent tripping and falling
- Lumbar lordosis (inward curvature of the spine)
- A “waddling” gait
- Enlarged calf muscles
- Impaired pulmonary function
- Motor skills difficulties
- Learning disabilities
Steroids, asthma treatment, nutritional supplementation, heart medication, physical and occupational therapy, and respiratory and mobility assistance may be used to help manage DMD. Right now, there are no cures.