You wouldn’t normally think that Ray Romano, OneRepublic and American Idol’s Nigel Lythgoe would have much in common, but they, along with many other celebrities, support the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Other celebrity supporters of MDA include Alison Sweeney, Barry Manilow and Tom Bergeron, host of Dancing with the Stars.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describes muscular dystrophy as “A group of more than 30 genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement.” Muscular dystrophy can affect both children and adults. The most common form of MD is called Duchenne MD, and it is often seen in boys between the ages of 3 and 5. Myotonic MD is the most commonly seen among adults. This type of MD causes individuals to have muscle spasms, cardiac abnormalities and physical characteristics like droopy eyelids and long, thin facial features.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association was founded in 1950 by a group of people living with MD, as well as parents with children diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and a group of physicians. The goal of the association is to
“Work to make life better for people with muscular dystrophy and related muscle diseases by providing representation in matters of public policy and research advancement, nationally and internationally; and facilitating active involvement in these areas by the people it serves.”
At this time, there is no cure or prevention for MD. Physical therapy, respirators, and some medications help with the symptoms of MD. This is why federally funded organizations like NINSA, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development are so important to continuing the research and treatment of people diagnosed with MD.
At the 2011 annual telethon, the MDA raised $61.5 million, showing that this is a condition that affects many homes across the country. For more information about how to get involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, visit their website at mda.org.