Walking Strong

A family connects through MDA Muscle Walk

For Rene Runions, a 19-year-old sophomore at Saint Louis University (SLU), MDA has been a part of her life since she was diagnosed with Charcot- Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) in the sixth grade. She started attending MDA Summer Camp in her home state of Illinois and later was named the Illinois State Ambassador. 

“It was cool,” she says. “I went around Illinois and spoke at different conventions. I talked with fire fighters, I went to Muscle Walks, and I went to businesses like Jiffy Lube and Lowe’s and thanked people [for their support].” 

MDA Muscle Walk is also an important event for Runions and her family. She estimates that about a third of the family on her mother’s side has muscular dystrophy, including her mother, grandmother and likely her brother. Since her diagnosis, the family has walked as Team Run Rene at the MDA Muscle Walk of Springfield. In those nine years, they’ve only missed one walk, and they have raised more than $10,000 for MDA families. 

Runions also attended the MDA Muscle Walk of St. Louis last year with a classmate who has muscular dystrophy. At SLU, she is studying nutrition and dietetics, and she plans to become a doctor.

“In high school, I started wanting to be a pediatric neurologist, because I know from experience that there aren’t that many,” says Runions. “That was a motivator, and in my senior year [of high school] I took human anatomy, and neurology was the most fascinating part of that.”

Runions still makes it back home for her local Muscle Walk of Springfield, which she enjoys because it gives her a chance to reunite with friends she made at MDA Summer Camp. 

“It’s always great to go to the MDA walks, because I get to see everybody from camp,” she says. “A lot of campers feel like they’re at home when they’re at Summer Camp — we could just be kids, and if you wanted to do something, you could. That’s what I remember most.” 


Find an MDA Muscle Walk Where You Live

MDA Muscle Walks are happening across the country throughout the year. Find a walk near you and get involved today!

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 800-572-1717. If you live outside the U.S., we may be able to connect you to muscular dystrophy groups in your area, but MDA services are only available in the U.S.