Local teenager thankful for annual MDA telethon that airs Sunday on ABC
LODI (WKOW)-- We've all seen the videos of people taking the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness of ALS. The campaign has made its' rounds through social media with everyone either taking the challenge themselves or knowing someone who has. However, ALS is just one of a few dozen muscular diseases the Muscular Dystrophy Association is currently working to cure.
The annual MDA telethon airs Sunday from 8:00-10:00 p.m. on WKOW Channel 27. The show will feature several real life stories of people living with muscular diseases, but to hear from someone in Southern Wisconsin, you'll have to drive to Lodi and meet the Gorton family.
"I have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It makes it hard to walk, " 14-year-old Justin Gorton says.
A musician and an athlete, Justin Gorton doesn't let his condition slow him down. He was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy when he was 3-years-old. His father John says the condition was discovered by doctors who were checking on Justin's health after he was adopted from Korea. His father says had it not been for this checkup his condition would've most likely gone unnoticed for years.
"Most people don't find out their child has this until they get into school and they see that their kid can't keep up with their classmates running around on the playground," father John Gorton says. "We're really lucky that we caught this early."
The condition causes Justin's body to not build muscles properly, so instead of getting stronger as he ages his body actually grows weaker. Eventually he will lose complete control of his legs and arms, but for the time being he's able to walk short distances and play the piano.
"He plays a lot of the music I like. He plays James Taylor and fun stuff like that," John says.
The family is thankful for everything the MDA is doing to support people like Justin. The group offers Summer camp programs that give kids like Justin a place to meet friends. Justin says it's great to be with kids that are facing the same challenges he is.
"We just talk about our disabilities and they understand me. They know what it's like," Justin says.
The family is also hopeful that medical researchers will one day find a cure. They are monitoring a few projects that could improve Justin's quality of life.
"They have some drugs in the pipeline that are in testing right now. They also have some drugs to treat and slow down Justin's condition, which have fewer side effects, which are really close to being approved," John says.
The MDA is sending Justin to the Packers/Vikings game at Lambeau Field this year. He's excited to see the epic rivalry in action. He has also participated in several MDA sponsored events over the years where he has met professional athletes and inspiring public figures.