Florida Mother Brings Muscular Dystrophy Into the Spotlight by Lighting up Landmarks Green

As night fell on Florida’s Jupiter Lighthouse, someone turned on the lights.

But on that evening in August, the light wasn’t meant to guide ships to safe harbor or warn of dangerous reefs.

Instead, the lighthouse was glowing lime green to raise awareness of muscular dystrophy.

It was an emotional moment after a hard-fought battle for Nadine Kirby, the Florida woman who made it happen.

Baltimore-City-Hall-LIUG
Baltimore City Hall glowed green for muscular dystrophy awareness in August 2015.

“It was really a spectacular kind of thing,” she says. “I think I cried when I saw the Jupiter Lighthouse lit up.”

Nadine is the creator of an awareness campaign called Light It Up Green For MD, which lights landmarks lime green to highlight the many forms of muscular dystrophy and their impact on families everywhere. Her ultimate goal is to get all 50 states to declare August as both Muscular Dystrophy awareness month and Light It Up Green month.

Nadine’s inspiration is her 22-year-old son, David, who has lived with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or DMD, since the age of 4.

DMD first weakens the muscles of the pelvis, shoulders and hips, then progresses to the heart and the muscles which help a person to breathe.

“He has lots of challenges and I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way. With every power of my being, I was going to make this happen for him and for all the other families,” she says of Light It Up Green. “It motivates me and it keeps me going, because I know that we don’t have a lot of time.”

Alongside raising awareness, Nadine is also looking to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which has long been a fixture in her family’s life.

David was a Goodwill Ambassador with the MDA when he was a kid and the family has participated in countless Muscle Walks and other fundraisers since his diagnosis.

Every day, Nadine’s son shows her how to live unlimited — how to persevere with grace, dignity and joy.

She comes to him with any and all ideas about Light It Up Green. She values his opinion and he supports her, even if he thinks she acts a little nuts at times.

“David says, ‘Mom, you’re crazy.’ Yeah, I’m crazy,” she says, chuckling.

But, as she says, crazy gets things done, and that’s something Nadine excels at.

“We’ve always been in the spotlight and the idea to light something up just came to me one day,” she says. “I was like, wait a second, if we can light it up blue for autism and pink for breast cancer and gold for childhood cancer, why can’t we light it up something for muscular dystrophy and MDA?”

That something turned out to be lime green, the recognized color for muscular dystrophy awareness.

So, thanks to Nadine’s passion and relentless work ethic, five landmarks were lit up lime green in 2015 — the Jupiter Lighthouse, the Miami Tower, Seattle’s Great Wheel, Baltimore City Hall and the Arkansas Governor’s Office.

In addition, 46 states declared August as both Muscular Dystrophy awareness month and Light It Up Green month with official proclamations, which they sent to Nadine.

“Last year, every time I got one or got five or got 10 in the mail, I was doing the happy dance,” she says.

This year, she’s already well on her way to filling up her inbox and mailbox —and doing lots of happy dances — with proclamations from all 50 states and even more lit landmarks.

On August 4, the Louisiana Superdome, the Oklahoma City Skydance Bridge and the Pennsylvania State Capitol will light up green for muscular dystrophy, along with nearly a dozen other landmarks across the country.

How did she do it? Passion and determination. She just doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. That’s what living unlimited means to her.

“I’m astounded by what I’ve been able to accomplish. It’s just crazy,” she says. “I’m just one person, I’m just little me and well, little me is doing a really big thing.”

She hopes the lightings and the proclamations start a conversation and, essentially, shine a light on muscular dystrophy.

“It just makes you feel really good, because you know that you put all the effort into it and you’re fighting for something that is bigger than what you are,” Nadine says. “This is bigger than my family.”

Nadine knows that muscular dystrophy is much bigger. It is a global disease, with families affected all over the world. That’s why Nadine’s work isn’t done even when she gets a landmark lit in every state.

“I would love to have an international day for muscular dystrophy and have them light up all over the world,” she says.

If anyone can light the world up green, it’s Nadine.