The Muscular Dystrophy Association's first labor day weekend telethon was broadcast in 1966. Funds raised at the telethon go towards finding a cure and providing kids with the disease the possibility of attending summer camp.
There are several different types of muscular diseases, and one local family anticipates a breakthrough in the near future. A cure could prolong 11-year-old Skyers Ruplinger’s life.
"Of course, as a parent, you feel very hopeless when you're fighting something that is always going to be there,” said Skyers’ mother, Ladette Ruplinger.
Skyers has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Type II, which means he is not able to support his weight. He has been wheelchair-bound his entire life.
Ladette implemented a strict workout regiment for him at an early age. She said it has allowed him to do things people in his position would have already lost the ability to do.
"I like doing video games, I do almost everything and MDA except for walking,” Skyers said.
He was diagnosed with the debilitating disease when he was three. His first, and last, hospitalization occurred at the age of four.
"I started working him out, more of a muscle building program, instead of just the once a week physical therapy,” his mother explained. “I took him to the pool, and he swims independently. We've never had a hospitalization since."
Every day, Skyers works out on the treadmill for 45 minutes.
Ladette figures that if she keeps her son's muscles healthy, he will live a longer life.
It’s a wish that is something any parent of a child with such a disease could hope for. It’s also why Ladette encourages people to donate to the MDA program.
"Medical advances are proving to extend the quality of life and life span,” Ladette said. “So, I feel that coupled with what we're doing, he's going to get to be a grandpa someday."
The MDA telethon is on Aug. 31 from 8-10 p.m. on ABC .
To make a donation, visit mda.org/showofstrength.