Muscular Dystrophy devastates teen’s body but not his spirit

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) Today, WWAY anchors Makenzi Henderson and Randy Aldridge will be locked up for 'good.' They will be arrested and put in jail to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The disease comes in many forms and affects many throughout the world and in Wilmington.

Justin Verzaal is one of those people. But, his strength of character makes up for his weakness of body. Before Justin was six, he could walk and run like everyone else. But, very quickly he lost his freedom.

"I'd have trouble getting up off the floor. Sometimes going on uneven surfaces would cause me to fall," Justin said.

His mother, Christian Verzaal, said those were signs something was seriously wrong.

"I've never been in a doctor's office where your doctor cries as they give you the results," Christian said.

The doctor diagnosed Justin with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, it's the most common and severe form among children caused by a deficiency of a protein that helps strengthen muscle fibers.

"It's kind of difficult at six years old with a lot of life to live," Justin said.

A life Justin had to start living in a wheelchair at nine.

"The last time I walked, I almost came close to cutting my head open on the coffee table and I was like, 'I'm done,'" Justin said.

Done with walking, yes. But, not done with trying to make the best of it.

"I've been told certain things about how long I might live but I won't let that discourage me from doing things. I just keep pushing on," Justin said.

As Justin's desire to push on gets stronger, his muscles continue to get weaker.

"Some of the more traumatic stuff would be breathing complications as I'm getting older. Since your lungs are a muscle, with this disease, your muscles progressively get weaker so things like breathing are difficult," Justin said.

"For us, it's emotional.  But, for him, one day you can pick your cup up and the next day you can't. You're going to break down," Christian said.

But, from those breakdowns, Christian said her son has learned to build up not only himself but others. She said Justin was a Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association when he was in third grade.

"It makes us not feel so alone and it also helps Justin. People look to him for advice," Christian said.

And, now the college freshman plays on a power hockey team, called Hot Wheels, he helped create.

"It's pretty much the same as regular hockey. There are a few adaptations to the game," Justin said.

A game that makes him feel free even in his wheelchair.

To donate to Makenzi or Randy to help them get out of the MDA Lock Up, please click on the link and then the button on their MDA Lock Up websites to make a secure donation.

To donate to Makenzi, click here. To donate to Randy, click here.

Categories: New Hanover

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