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Walking Strong

Tia Blankenship crosses the finish line with the support of friends and family

When Tia Blankenship was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) in 2002 at the age of 23, she was told she wouldn’t be able to walk by the time she turned 35. This past April, at the age of 37, Blankenship walked both the 5K walk and the 1-mile walk at the MDA Muscle Walk of Tampa Bay (Fla.). 

Tia Blankenship

“It was emotional,” Blankenship says. “One of my husband’s employees and his wife and two kids stayed behind us, and my husband and my daughter each had one arm of mine supporting me. [At the end,] my daughter took off running and had my wheelchair waiting. I sort of collapsed at the line.”

The walk was particularly special for Blankenship because it came on the heels of four major surgeries she underwent that caused her to miss the 2015 MDA Muscle Walk. After physical therapy for her last surgery was completed, she started working with a personal trainer to prepare for this year’s Muscle Walk. Blankenship and her personal trainer created a plan, based on her doctors’ recommendations and additional research, to prepare Blankenship for the walk. 

Blankenship’s team, CMT Standing Strong, exceeded their $7,000 fundraising goal by about $700. However, for Blankenship, the MDA Muscle Walk was about more than just the money raised.

“It helped me not focus on what’s happening to my body and to look forward to something in the community,” she says. “MDA has been a blessing. Before MDA, I was seeing doctors who didn’t know anything about my disease, and it took years to get a good diagnosis. I don’t know what we would have done without them.”

Get Involved Today

For neuromuscular diseases, early diagnosis and specialized care often lead to the best outcomes. To learn about MDA Care Centers, visit To find and register for your local MDA Muscle Walk, check out 


MDA Resource Center: We’re Here For You

Our trained specialists are here to provide one-on-one support for every part of your journey. Send a message below or call us at 1-833-ASK-MDA1 (1-833-275-6321). If you live outside the U.S., we may be able to connect you to muscular dystrophy groups in your area, but MDA programs are only available in the U.S.

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