Brad Todd’s nephew, Joel, was three years old when he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder that weakens muscle strength. By the time Joel is a teenager, he won’t be able to walk. By the time Joel is in his early twenties, he will be fighting for his life.
“Once a family member comes down with something like that, you go through a range of motions. The first year, we wrote the biggest check we could for a research organization,” said Todd.
Todd – a Missouri School of Journalism graduate- first got the idea to start Coach to Cure Muscular Dystrophy when he was watching college basketball. Coaches wore sneakers with their nice suits for Coaches vs. Cancer, a day in college basketball devoted to raising cancer awareness. Todd realized that football didn’t have a day like that, so he took his idea to the American Football Coaches Association in 2008.
“Coach to Cure MD seemed like a perfect fit with football. Duchenne is a disorder that only affects boys and muscle strength, you need muscle strength to play football. By the time the boys with duchenne are teenagers, they’ll lose the strength in their legs and won’t be able to walk. By the time other boys are teenagers, they’re playing football and by the time those high school football players go on to play in college, the boys with duchenne are fighting for their lives.”
This year, 564 football coaches will participate in Coach to Cure MD, including Mizzou football coach Gary Pinkel. Coaches will wear large patches on their sleeves promoting the foundation. Pinkel has participated in the event every year since it started. Todd says he’s grateful for Pinkel’s support.
“It means a lot to click on the TV and know that you’re not in this alone.”
The University of Missouri’s involvement with MD doesn’t stop on the football field. Just recently, the university was given a research grant of $294,000 for Dongsheng Duan, Ph.D. to continue his work with finding a way to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Todd’s nephew Joel is now ten years old. Todd says his mobility is still good and that his family is lucky that duchenne is progressing a little bit slower inside his body. “Chances are, the cure for this awful disorder will come from a college campus -and it might come from Dr. Duan at Mizzou.”