‘Calves to Cure’ Auction Aims to Rustle Up Funds for CureDuchenne

The annual fundraiser will take place Sept. 15 in Billings, MT

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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For the fourth year, a family in Montana is hosting “Calves to Cure,” a cattle auction that aims to raise funds to support developing new treatments, or even a cure, for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The event will take place Sept. 15 in Billings, Montana. All proceeds from the fundraiser will go to CureDuchenne, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing research towards treatments for DMD. Additional details are available on the event’s Facebook page.

DMD, the most common form of muscular dystrophy, is caused by mutations in the gene that provides instructions for making a protein called dystrophin. Normally, the dystrophin protein acts like a shock-absorber in muscle cells, helping to cushion the cell from damage during the rigorous processes of muscle contraction.

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In DMD, however, little or no dystrophin protein is made, rendering muscles much more vulnerable to wear and tear. Most people with DMD rely on a wheelchair to get around by the time they are in their teens, and, although care continues to improve, the expected lifespan for a person with DMD is markedly shortened due to a high risk of complications like heart disease or respiratory failure.

Calves to Cure is an initiative launched in 2019 by Paul and Laura Heaton, a couple in Billings whose son, Grant, was diagnosed with DMD at age 3.

“We are dealing with this disease as best we can and doing what we can to keep Grant ambulatory for as long as possible. To this end we do physical therapy, swimming, horseback riding, daily stretches and exercises at home, along with doctor appointments,” the Heatons wrote in a 2019 Facebook post. “Along with all of this we thought that another thing we can do is raise money for research towards a cure and viable treatment. To do this we decided to have a cattle sale.”

As part of the event, people in Montana and neighboring states are invited to donate cattle (calves, yearlings, cows, etc.) for an auction. Sellers can choose to donate all the proceeds from the animal, or to donate a set amount or percentage from the sale price.

The event includes raffle tickets that give participants the chance to win one of eight boxes containing 50 pounds (22.7 kg) of premium beef. The drawings will take place on the day of the auction and all winnings will be delivered in January 2023.

To date, the Calves to Cure auction has raised more than $60,000 for CureDuchenne.