All in the Family

Sisters Michelle Murphy and Christine Southard join MDA Team Momentum

Michelle Murphy, a marketing coordinator from Albany, N.Y., with myotonic muscular dystrophy (MMD, or DM), has been running for as long as she can remember. So when she was diagnosed with MMD in the summer of 2014, she began looking for ways she could use her passion for running to raise money to fight the disease. 

Michelle Murphy

“I was disheartened for a while, because I was looking for something that would benefit [MMD],” she says. “One day I searched for MDA, and I saw Team Momentum on their website and it made me so happy. That was the first time I cried from happiness in a long time.”

Murphy’s desire to support MDA Team Momentum came not only from her own diagnosis, but also that of her father, Anthony Murphy, and sister, Christine Southard, who had also been recently diagnosed with MMD. Each of them experienced the characteristic “Christmas tree” cataracts, common in people with MMD. 

“Christine didn’t even realize [she had a problem] until an eye doctor referred her to a neurologist,” Murphy says. “And I didn’t have any symptoms besides the cataracts. My dad found out after me and my sister because we knew it was inherited from one of our parents, and he was the only one with cataracts.”

Excited to learn about MDA Team Momentum and the fundraising opportunity it provides, Murphy convinced her sister, her sister’s husband and her best friend to join her in running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October 2016 as members of MDA Team Momentum.

“I haven’t been a runner before, but when Michelle was looking into running for a charity that benefits people that have what we have, I told her if she could find a way, then I would do it too,” Southard says. “I didn’t really expect it to happen.”

But now the whole team is on board and looking forward to the race in October. Murphy and Southard even paid a visit to the Boston Marathon in April to get a feel for the marathon experience and support MDA Team Momentum. 

“Being there was a little nerve-wracking, because it’s starting to seem more real,” says Southard. “But it was also really inspiring. We saw people that were blind running with a guide, and people that have had legs amputated running with prosthetics. It was just really inspiring.” 

Ready to cross the most meaningful finish line of your life? Learn how you can get involved in MDA Team Momentum at


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