Fourteen-year-old Kentucky native Gabrielle’s favorite subject is geography, which is appropriate when you have an insatiable desire to travel. Gabrielle, who has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Type 2, has already seen a great deal of the world, including Europe, the Caribbean and the western United States. This year, Gabrielle is featured as a “Shamrockstar” on platinum MDA Shamrocks at retailers across the country, a country that Gabrielle has seen extensively in her travels with her family.
When I was asked to continue in my role as National Ambassador for MDA in 2017, I had to think about it for about a nanosecond before I gave my answer. Yes, of course! So it’s official: I’ve re-upped for another tour. 2016 will be a hard act to follow, but now that I’m a registered frequent flyer and have a year of ambassadorship under my belt, I can’t wait to try to top it. In fact, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of experiences I’m looking forward to in 2017. Join me, won’t you?
Gianna Schwartz was born to write. Just 10 years old, the fifth-grader from Bettendorf, Iowa, has already won writing contests sponsored by PBS and participated in poetry slams. She’s even written a children’s book that was purchased at an auction by a Major League baseball player. Gianna — who is the Iowa State Goodwill Ambassador . . .
Owen Prenger of Brandon, S.D., is the embodiment of the MDA’s “Live Unlimited” motto. The active 10-year-old has numerous passions and interests. Above all, he loves to learn and is in the gifted education program in his fourth-grade class. Outside of school, he loves to play Minecraft, his favorite video game, and watch football, especially his . . .
“What would you do if you weren’t disabled?” Yep — that’s the hard-hitting question everyone and their mother wants to know. Can you say, #cliché? Truthfully, at this point, anyone who’s anyone knows I would twerk. And that’s what I’ve started telling people. But when most people ask, “twerking” isn’t generally the answer they’re hoping . . .
Hometown: Brandon, SD Diagnosis: I have Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD). BMD’s onset is usually in late childhood or adolescence. Generalized weakness first affects muscles of the hips, pelvic area, thighs and shoulders. Calves are often enlarged. There can be significant heart involvement. Favorite School Subject/Activities: I am in 3rd grade and my favorite subjects are reading and . . .
Meet Sylvia Hometown: Oakland, CA Age: 15 Diagnosis: I was diagnosed with Bethlem myopathy. Bethlem myopathy is a type of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy—a group of disorders affecting voluntary muscles, mainly those around the hips and shoulders. Favorite School Subject/Activities: My favorite subjects are leadership and geometry. Favorite People: My favorite person is Ellen DeGeneres and I also love my dogs Ronnie and . . .
Meet Cadence Hometown: Havre, Montana Age: 9 Diagnosis: I have an unspecified myopathy. Myopathies are diseases that cause problems with the tone and contraction of skeletal muscles. Favorite School Subject/Activities: Art, Reading, Rocket Math and Science are my favorite things about school. Favorite People and/or Pets: I love dolphins, including the Miami Dolphins. Although my #1 animal is . . .
Noah Hometown: Cortland, NY Age: 17 Diagnosis: I was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) Favorite School Subjects/Activities: My favorite school subject is history. Favorite People: My favorite people are my parents and my sister Katie. I also love spending time with my grandpa and my cat, Smokey, who is 16 years old. Interests: I like to read and I also . . .