Why baseball is so important to this DMD family

For this crew of 9, summer means our favorite sport is in season

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by Betty Vertin |

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Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, and we’re now officially in summer mode at my house. For our family, that means lots of baseball.

I have three sons — Max, 17, Rowen, 14, and Charlie, 12 — with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). But I also have one son, Chance, 16, who doesn’t have it. And God made him a baseball player. He’s over 6 feet tall and is long, lanky, and left-handed.

Admittedly, before becoming a baseball mom, I didn’t know that these things made for a good baseball player. I’ve since been told that these are good traits for playing in college and beyond.

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A family affair

When my sons with DMD were young, all three played baseball alongside Chance. Then their bodies grew weak, and they were unable to play while Chance continued on. And I kept waiting for Max, Rowen, and Charlie to say something — such as that they didn’t want to go to games because it was too hard for them to watch Chance do something they couldn’t. But that never happened.

My boys with DMD have continued to love baseball, even if it means watching the game from the bleachers instead of the dugout.

Baseball is America’s favorite pastime and ours as well. We love the Kansas City Royals and the University of Nebraska Huskers, but you’ll usually find a game on our TV whether our teams are playing or not. And when Chance is playing, you’ll find our van parked at the field while we’re in our own viewing room, the second one up, behind the home team batter’s box. Our baseball family accepts us just as we are, wheels and all.

The experiences and social life the sport provides are priceless. For example, the team that Chance plays for assigns a family to announce the starting lineups at each home game, as well as the batters and other things. We were assigned a game, and because the park is accessible, Rowen, an aspiring sports broadcaster, was able to announce a game with his dad in the press box. He looked forward to it for days and enjoyed every minute of it. He hopes other parents who don’t want to be the announcer will ask him to take their days. Without baseball this summer, Rowen never would’ve had the experience.

As my sons age and increasingly depend on wheelchairs and help from others, their ability and desire to go out without a caregiver have diminished, and with them, their social lives. However, because our four boys are all within five years of each other in age, Chance’s teammates have become friends with his brothers.

The best example is a young man who is in show choir with Max. He’s a year younger than Max, but the same age as Chance. He played on Chance’s 14-and-under team and got to know Max. They became good friends once he got to high school because he shared many interests with Max, such as music and theater.

Charlie loves to chase foul balls with the other kids his age. Each person who returns a foul ball to the dugout is paid 50 cents, which is how Charlie funds his concession stand obsession. He also gets to talk to players and coaches in the dugout each time he returns a ball. He always returns with a big smile.

I never would’ve guessed that all four of my boys would enjoy a sport, but I’m pleasantly surprised and relish the joyful summer moments that baseball provides our family.

Note: Muscular Dystrophy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.


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