With both of her sons living with muscular dystrophy, MDA Muscle Walk is personal for Tammy Gregory.
“I kind of blamed myself when they were first diagnosed,” Tammy says, explaining that she didn’t know she was a carrier of flawed genes that cause Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD). “I don’t blame myself now, but it’s hard because you don’t know what their futures are going to be like. To see them struggle — you want to make it better for them and you can’t.”
Ever since 19-year-old Kyle and 15-year-old Travis were both diagnosed with BMD about five years ago, they have participated in the Columbus, Ohio Muscle Walk with their team of family and friends, the K & T All-Stars — named for the boys.
This year was no exception. Earlier this month, the team of 14 relatives and friends braved some chilly spring weather to show their support for kids and adults, like Travis and Kyle, living with muscular dystrophy. Always the avid sports fan, Travis was most excited to meet Brutus Buckeye, the Ohio State University mascot.
“I think it’s nice, because you realize you’re not alone and you’re not the only one. There’s other people like you,” Tammy says of the walk. “You can talk to them and they know what you’re going through, because they’ve been through it, or they’re going through it.”
The diagnosis was tough on the boys, but MDA has been a resource for the family, providing information to the boys’ teachers and helping the family purchase Kyle’s wheelchair. Besides Muscle Walk, the boys have sold MDA Shamrocks and participated in a Fill the Boot fundraiser with their local fire department.
“I think it’s amazing what MDA does with the money — trying to find a cure and funding the summer camps,” Tammy says. “Kyle went to summer camp for two or three years and he really liked it.”
The disease has progressively weakened the muscles in their legs and pelvises, making it harder and harder for them to walk. Kyle uses a chair to get around his college campus, where he studies computer graphics.
Travis is on heart medicine and goes for check-ups every few months because BMD has weakened his heart.
“He’s just getting to the point where he’s starting to understand what he can and can’t do, but he doesn’t want to give up,” Tammy says of Travis.
While Kyle’s passion is video games, Travis loves playing sports. Getting out on the basketball court with his friends has become harder for him though, so he plays games with them online instead. He’s started taking online classes too, because going to school wears him out.
“It’s hard, but we take it one day at a time,” Tammy says.
For her, walking and fundraising for Muscle Walk is one way to work toward a better future for her sons and all those affected by these diseases that take away the ability to walk, run, hug, talk and even breathe.
But participating isn’t just good for Tammy.
“I think it helps the boys out — to see that they’re not alone,” she says.