Passion in Action: Connecticut Teen Brings Enthusiasm to the Muscle Walk

Thirteen-year-old Dana Parrott has a live unlimited motto, which she faithfully follows.

“I may have muscular dystrophy,” she says. “But muscular dystrophy don’t have me!”

In so doing, Dana is showing the world that her limits don’t define her. To every doubter and every “you can’t do that,”
she says, “watch me.”

Diagnosed with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) five years ago, the eighth grader uses a wheelchair to get around but still remains active.

“Dana was always on the go before her diagnosis,” says mom Jane. “So after lots of research, I found the adaptive sport program at Hospital for Special Care.”

Dana and her HSC Cruiser teammates
Dana and her HSC Cruiser teammates

Now, Dana is a member of the HSC track and field team Cruisers and its swim team Waves.

“I ask her what keeps her going, because not many kids with muscular dystrophy play sports, and she said that she loves the feeling of competition, to compete against her own strength and to meet people with many different kinds of struggles,” Jane continues.

Playing on a team means “I’m not alone,” according to Dana. “The challenge is that it’s hard and sometimes I’m tired but my team, coaches and my family support me and push me through it. I also love my trophies, awards and to travel.”

In other words, it’s all about living unlimited.

It’s clear that a muscle-debilitating disease can’t hold this girl back — and she doesn’t want anyone else to be held back by one either. That’s why, ever since she was diagnosed, Dana has participated in MDA Muscle Walk.

“It’s just a really fun time,” she says. “Getting to be at an event where you know that it’s helping you and others. It gives you such a good feeling.”

Her local walk, the Greater Hartford and New Haven Area Muscle Walk, took place June 12. Dana’s team of family and friends, called Dana’s Team Awesome, had a goal of raising $1,500. They aren’t greedy, Dana’s mom Jane says, but they’d like to pull in a lot more money than that for the MDA.

Dana is a decorated athlete
Dana is a decorated athlete

The team lives up to its name — they always blow past their fundraising goal, Jane says, usually doubling their dollars at the last minute.

“We came up with Dana’s Team Awesome because we have an awesome family and awesome friends that are with us every year and donate to MDA every year,” Jane, says. “It’s been pretty amazing. They have been awesome.”

To date, Dana’s Team Awesome has already raised a whopping $1,100 for the MDA—which makes Dana and the team pretty awesome indeed.

Dana was a local MDA Goodwill Ambassador in Connecticut, where she lives, and has sold MDA Shamrocks and participated in Fill the Boot events.

For her and her mom, raising funds for the MDA is a no-brainer. (When asked why she supports the MDA, Dana quipped, “First of all, ‘Why not?'”)

“The real reason is because the MDA funds all the research and helps you get what you need. If you need something, they’ll help you get it,” Dana says. “All the money that’s donated to the MDA walk, where do you think it goes? It has to go somewhere and it goes to research — for a cure someday.”

When Dana was first diagnosed, Jane was devastated. She worried about Dana’s future and asked how she could help make Dana’s life the best it could be.

Jane told her daughter to never let the disease define her. She told her that even though everything is never going to be OK, they can’t just sit back and cry.

They haven’t. Dana has her challenges and her successes, but no matter what, she keeps trucking. She keeps living unlimited.

LGMD won't stop Dana from pursuing her love of music
LGMD won’t stop Dana from pursuing her love of music

Sometimes Dana misses class, because she gets sick a lot, but she works hard and gets good grades — so good that she’s an honor student. She even just joined a new soccer team where all the players use wheelchairs. She has also played the piano since the age of four.

“I can’t raise my arm to save my life, but I can still somehow manage to play the piano,” she says. “I really don’t know how it works, but somehow I make it happen.”

“She’s a fighter,” Jane says.

To join families like the Parrotts and walk to help bring an end to muscle-debilitating diseases, sign up for your local Muscle Walk today.