Press Room

Fighting every day to free individuals — and the families who love them — from the harmful effects of muscle-debilitating diseases so they can live longer and grow stronger

MDA’s ‘Live Unlimited’ Campaign Urges Americans to Support Families with Neuromuscular Disease

CHICAGO, September 20, 2017 — The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) today launched its 2017 “Live Unlimited” campaign set to run through Oct.11, 2017. The three-week awareness and fundraising campaign will feature the “Live Unlimited” stories of three families impacted by a neuromuscular disease who challenged themselves to defy their own perceived limitations.

The stories chronicle best friends who crossed the Camino de Santiago together, one woman’s hike across the Pacific Coast Trail and a family from Los Angeles uniting to give their young son a chance to pursue his dreams. MDA is sharing these powerful stories with the American public to help raise awareness and to help more kids and adults living with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related life-threatening diseases feel empowered to pursue their personal and professional goals — to live unlimited.

The idea behind “Live Unlimited” is inspired by the strength, courage and can-do spirit of individuals and families who are doing remarkable things every day — whether it’s crossing the street in a wheelchair, graduating from college or even skydiving — to show the world that the physical and societal limits that a disease like muscular dystrophy can bring will never define them. “MDA’s Live Unlimited campaign highlights three amazing stories and their remarkable efforts to live life to the fullest,” said MDA Interim President and CEO Kristine Welker. “No matter who you are, where you live or what you care about, we all want to live without limits, those we sometimes place on ourselves and those defined by others. MDA’s mission is to save and improve the lives of those affected by neuromuscular disease and ultimately make more live unlimited moments possible for our families. As we’ll see in each story the support of family, friends and community is what makes this mission possible.”

The families featured in the 2017 "Live Unlimited" campaign are:

  • Justin Skeesuck and his lifelong best friend Patrick Gray, both from Boise, Idaho, recently climbed the Camino de Santiago from France through Spain. Justin has multifocal acquired motor axonopathy or MAMA, a rare, progressive neuromuscular disease, but that didn’t stop him and Patrick from completing the 500-mile trail spanning two countries. Their journey is coming to life in a new book and documentary called “I’ll Push You.” The documentary is set to premiere in 500 theaters nationwide on Nov. 2, 2017. Justin and Patrick are thrilled to share their voyage and help others live beyond limits.
  • Sophia Spooner, a hiker and Illinois native who recently took a “little stroll” on the Pacific Coast Trail for nearly six months in honor of her late father, Ray Spooner, who received an ALS diagnosis in 2014. Similarly, her father completed a cross-country cycling tour shortly after his diagnosis called “Ray’s Little Ride” and raised more than $80,000 for MDA. Ray died Aug. 8, 2016, and less than a year later, Sophia set out on her own adventure to honor her father’s legacy and raise funds for MDA. She successfully completed the Pacific Coast Trail on Sept. 9, 2017, and met her initial goal of raising $10,000. Sophia has decided to continue fundraising and increased her goal to $25,000.
  • Christopher Perez, 11, and his family have formed the team “Christopher’s Cruizers” for the upcoming MDA Muscle Walk of Los Angeles on Sept. 30, 2017. Christopher is living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and along with his community of champions is raising funds to support more live unlimited moments for the more than 100,000 kids and adults registered with MDA.

Through the "Live Unlimited" campaign, MDA wants to inspire Americans nationwide to gift more live unlimited moments by supporting Justin and Patrick, Sophia and the Perez family fundraising pages helping MDA reach its goal of $100,000.

"Living — and thriving — with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases isn’t a one-person effort, said "I'll Push You" star Justin Skeesuck. "Neither is the quest for scientific discoveries and treatments. A large community makes the possibility of living unlimited a reality."

MDA partners who have made this campaign possible and help MDA families live unlimited every day include: International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), CITGO Petroleum Corp, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Acosta Sales & Marketing, Albertsons Companies, Casey’s General Stores, Circle K, The Kroger Company, National Association of Letter Carriers, Dutch Bros. Coffee and Eastern Harley-Davidson Dealers Association.

To learn more, visit mda.org/LiveUnlimited.

About the Muscular Dystrophy Association
MDA is leading the fight to free individuals — and the families who love them — from the harm of muscular dystrophy, ALS and related muscle-debilitating diseases that take away physical strength, independence and life. We use our collective strength to help kids and adults live longer and grow stronger by finding research breakthroughs across diseases; caring for individuals from day one; and empowering families with services and support in hometowns across America. Learn how you can fund cures, find care and champion the cause at mda.org.