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Guest Angler V : Brad Todd- "Coach to Cure MD"

Some of the best things about college football are the spirited rivalries, but on one Saturday each year thousands of coaches nationwide at all levels of collegiate football are on the same team, to raise awareness and research funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Duchenne is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed during early childhood. A progressive muscle disorder that causes loss of muscle function and independence, Duchenne affects approximately one out of every 3,500 boys and 20,000 babies born each year worldwide. One of those boys was my nephew Joel, who was diagnosed with Duchenne as a toddler in November 2005. Coach to Cure MD was established in July 2008 as a way to raise national awareness and further the cause of Duchenne research to help young boys just like my nephew.

In coordination with Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), we approached The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) with a proposal to develop a signature, national charity event linking college coaches with our cause. One reason the AFCA was drawn to Coach to Cure MD was because of the unique parallels between Duchenne, a disorder which robs young men of precious muscle strength and college football, a game where young men are at the peak of their muscle strength. By the time football players pick up the game, their peers with Duchenne are beginning to utilize wheelchairs. Around the time football players sign college scholarships, our boys are using ventilators. And by the time a college football player hits his athletic peak, out boys our fighting for their lives – most young men with Duchenne typically live only into their twenties.

This year on September 25th, 2010 you’ll see coaches across the country wearing a “Coach to Cure MD” patch on their sleeve in support of raising awareness for Duchenne and improving the lives of young men, just like they do on the field. Last year over 5,000 coaches participated, drawing attention and awareness with the patches, talking about the program in press conferences, and encouraging fans to donate through our website or directly through their mobile phone in the stadium. Many families show support by hosting “watch parties” or tailgates as fundraisers. Additionally, we run national TV advertisements that weekend through donated air time, and commentators discuss the cause and program during the televised games.

As college season begins and old rivals battle it out on the field, be reminded of a different battle some boys are fighting. When game time rolls around on September 25th, and you see coaches with the Coach to Cure MD patch, know that it’s the symbol of commitment these college football coaches and Coach to Cure MD are making to improve the lives of young men.

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