New Berlin fourth-grader continues to advocate for MDA through historic awareness program
CHICAGO, Jan. 8, 2015 — Reagan Imhoff spent 2014 jet-setting across the country, capturing the hearts of many as the face and voice of the Muscular Dystrophy Association — and now the 9-year-old will return as the 2015 National Goodwill Ambassador.
Video: Meet Reagan Imhoff
Along with her parents, Jenny and Joe, Reagan speaks to national partners and supporters about the urgent need to support MDA’s mission to save and improve the lives of families like hers affected by muscle disease. Reagan, who also attends various MDA events nationwide, has become quite the public speaker, charming her way into the hearts of everyone she meets.
In 2014, Reagan traveled to more than 10 cities to make appearances at nearly 20 events – and is prepared to take on another action-packed year as an MDA spokesperson.
Highlights from her appearances included rubbing elbows with celebrities including Bret Michaels, Carrie Underwood, and Jason Derulo, speaking to 10,000 National Association of Letter Carriers delegates, and throwing out the first pitch at Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers games. Other highlights included events with MDA’s national sponsors such as Lowe’s Home Improvement, CITGO, Harley-Davidson, and the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF).
“MDA is honored to have Reagan and her parents represent the individuals and families we serve,” said MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks. “We are deeply grateful they have agreed to serve a second term and will continue to share their story, encourage and thank our supporters and bring new people to the fight. It’s been wonderful to watch Reagan shine in this role. Reagan, Jenny and Joe personify our mission to save and improve the lives of those fighting muscle disease as we find treatments and cures, support families and rally communities.”
Beautiful and talented, Reagan is MDA’s 39th National Goodwill Ambassador. She also served three terms as the organization’s Wisconsin State Goodwill Ambassador. In Milwaukee, Reagan, along with her family and friends, has raised thousands of dollars participating in her local walk of MDA’s national Muscle Walk program each year.
Reagan has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA Type II), a progressive muscle disease most commonly diagnosed in infancy. The biggest potential problems in SMA are respiratory muscle weakness, swallowing muscle weakness, and back muscle weakness with progressive spinal curvature. Reagan uses a power wheelchair, a feeding tube for nutritional supplementation, and BiPap to assist with breathing issues.
When she’s not busy on MDA’s behalf, Reagan enjoys reading, dancing, drawing, swimming and musicals. Reagan loves adding to her collection of American Girl dolls and is a frequent visitor at stores across the country. She is also a regular at MDA’s summer camp and loves sharing her favorite memories with everyone she meets.
When asked about returning for a second term Reagan said, “I’m really excited because I get to meet great people and I get to spread awareness about MDA and life with muscle disease, and hope for a cure. Plus, I’ll be sending more of my best friends to MDA Summer Camp.” You can follow all of Reagan’s MDA adventures on Facebook at Reagan’s Rally 4 MDA.
About MDA National Goodwill Ambassador Program
Beginning in 1952, when public awareness and understanding of muscle disease were almost non-existent, MDA put a human face on its mission by calling upon young people affected by these diseases to serve as National Goodwill Ambassadors, telling their personal stories and inspiring support of MDA.
To date, the program has had 39 such ambassadors, boys and girls affected by a variety of neuromuscular disorders, who have traveled the nation to meet with sponsors, supporters and luminaries including U.S. Presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. They’ve also appeared on MDA’s Telethons — often with longtime Telethon Host Jerry Lewis – and other forums such as “Larry King Live,” “Oprah,” “Today,” and “Good Morning America.” Ambassadors have graced more than 15 covers of Parade magazine and served as guests of honor at Walt Disney World, Disneyland and the Rose Parade.
Today, MDA ambassadors continue to play an essential role in motivating millions to help MDA through donations or volunteer action. Former ambassadors have grown up to achieve distinction, earning advanced degrees and making their marks as published authors, popular musicians and artists and successful business professionals. Many continue in volunteer roles for MDA, serving on various committees on public awareness and appearing at large events to tell MDA’s story of progress.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association is the world’s leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to saving and improving the lives of people with muscle disease, including muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases. It does so by funding worldwide research to find treatments and cures; by providing comprehensive health care services and support to MDA families nationwide; and by rallying communities to fight back through advocacy, fundraising and local engagement.