MDA For Strength Independence & Life

Ways to Get Involved

Together with our generous supporters, MDA is fighting to free kids and adults from the harm of muscle-debilitating diseases so they can live longer and grow stronger. We need caring individuals like you to help us bring more treatments, the best care and life-changing support to families today.

Why I Give

Pat Riley

If you would like to see what a leprechaun grin looks like, you only need to meet Pat Riley of Hobe Sound, Fla. For more than 14 years Pat has been an MDA office volunteer, summer camp sponsor, Telethon volunteer, generous donor and most recently a Legacy Society member. You might ask yourself how a Detroit native — an only child of devoted parents and a retired Bell Telephone employee — developed an interest in and commitment to MDA's mission of finding cures and treatments for neuromuscular diseases. Read More »

Dr. Robert Edgar

Dr. Robert Edgar is full of surprises. This native of Oklahoma is a mild-mannered gentleman whose outward appearance is that of a distinguished professor. In fact, Bob Edgar is not only a distinguished professor, he is also the director of graduate studies for the Department of African Studies at Howard University in Washington D.C. (a historically black university). Read More »

Robert Cooper

Robert "Coop" Cooper has spent a lifetime helping others. He's busier now on a typical day in retirement than he ever was in his 31 years as an AT&T data communications technician. In fact, membership in AT&T's Pioneers, a group dedicated to volunteerism, opened up a new world of opportunities for Bob when he retired. Read More »

Linda "Scotty" Durisek

A devoted mother of three sons, and a doting grandmother to five beautiful grandchildren, Linda "Scotty" Durisek, has a soft spot in her heart for kids and a willingness to help whenever she sees a need. Scotty first became involved with MDA through her employer, Jack Gaughen Realtor ERA, in Harrisburg, Penn. It was at an MDA event sponsored by her employer that Scotty first met one of the families served by MDA, which touched her heart deeply. Since then she has helped organize and support many different fundraising events for MDA, including a company picnic and golf tournament. Read More »

Roseann Van Duren

Roseann Van Duren has a reluctant, but necessary, relationship with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). It began about 40 years ago when her brother, Michael D'Antonio, received a diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Roseann remembers the difficult times experienced by her brother and entire family as Michael's muscle weakness grew progressively worse, leading to his reliance on a wheelchair for mobility, then to his need for constant medical care, and finally to his death from complications of DMD. Read More »

Rick Levy

Rick Levy, entertainer, songwriter and president of a full-scale personal representation company, says, "I'll never forget watching my first MDA Labor Day Telethon in 1966. I gave a $5 donation and haven't missed a year since." That makes Rick a loyal donor in anyone's book. Rick's philanthropic spirit recently came full circle when — after a lifetime of giving — he decided to make the ultimate gift by including MDA in his estate plans. By making a bequest and telling MDA about his plans, Rick has become one of the newest members of MDA's Legacy of Help & Hope Society. Read More »

Sandra Daniels

Joseph Daniels emigrated from Persia (now known as Iran) in 1927, at the age of 14. His family moved from Detroit to Chicago, where he met and married his wife, Florence, who also had emigrated from Persia. A hard-working accountant who loved to play violin, Joseph always put his family first. In the summer of 1954, he took the family on a vacation to Turlock, Calif., so his children could visit their grandparents - Joseph's parents - who had retired there. Read More »

Judy Kaszas

Judy Kaszas is one of the newest members of our Legacy of Help & Hope Society, but she's no stranger to MDA. Judy's desire to help MDA started decades ago when she was a child and met "Dickie," the baby son of one of her mother's friends. She couldn't understand why the child couldn't walk and support himself like others. Judy's mother explained that "Dickie" was sick, and that money was needed to help find a cure. Read More »

Lenore Emmanuelli

After a few seconds in the presence of Lenore Emmanuelli, one immediately thinks of the phrase "larger than life." And after meeting this colorful, caring human being with blue eyes and a magnanimous smile, everyone becomes an instant friend. Lenore gained our attention when she called MDA's South Florida office to ask for the Association's correct name and the legal language needed to include MDA in her estate plans. Read More »

Dorothy Quinn Bursey

What a pleasure for MDA to re-establish a relationship with Dorothy Quinn Bursey! Dorothy is no stranger to MDA. As a matter of fact, you could call Dorothy a "walking history book" of all things MDA related. She remembers wonderful details about MDA annual meetings in the 1950s. She recalls meeting Jerry Lewis and Paul Cohen (MDA's co-founder and first president). Read More »

Donald and Barbara Graham

Donald Graham retired from the Lakewood Fire Dept. (in a suburb of Cleveland) as assistant chief after 25 years of service. He and his wife, Barbara, have nine children, including two sons who are fire fighters also. Donald and Barbara's involvement with MDA originated because of the active role their son Scott (Otto) has played in the local MDA Chapter and in raising funds for MDA through the Cleveland Fire Department. Read More »

Jane Kievit

Hope can be defined as "a belief that a desired outcome can be achieved." Jane Kievit has hope; it has been a common theme throughout her life. In the spring of 1945, Jane completed her degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She and three friends decided to "go on an adventure" and teach in "some exotic place." In those days, any move away from home - wherever it was - was a bold, hopeful move. Long Beach, Calif., was the exotic place of choice for these four young ladies, and in the fall of 1945 they began their careers in education there as classroom teachers. Read More »

Rosealie "Roz" Lesser

Rosealie "Roz" Lesser is a new member of our Legacy Society, but she isn't new to MDA. In fact, Roz and her husband attended their very first MDA special event, a gala, in 1994. The event was called "The 12 Days of Christmas" and included an auction. Roz, who is an avid Florida State University (FSU) Seminole football fan, was the high bidder on an autographed football from the Seminoles' 1993 national championship season. While enjoying the excitement of the gala and buying the autographed football, Roz's husband turned to her and said, "MDA is a great organization, and we need to help it." Roz agreed. Since then, she's never stopped helping MDA. As a matter of fact, one could say Roz is as passionate about her volunteer work for MDA as she is about her FSU Seminoles &nash; we're talking "fanatic!" Read More »

Josephine Neff

Some 30 years ago while in her thirties, Josephine Neff of Franklin, Wisconsin began to experience weakness in her lower extremities and difficulty in managing stairs, resulting in an eventual fall. That year, while watching the MDA Telethon, it occurred to her that she might be affected by muscular dystrophy. After seeing several doctors and a neurologist, she was diagnosed with LGD, limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. Read More »

Herb and Davida Arnoff

Herb and Davida Aronoff have been viewers of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon for many years. Herb's diagnosis of CIPD, a rare neurological disorder, has made him empathetic to children affected by neuromuscular disease and the importance of ongoing research. In 2003, after reading more about Jerry's Kids and MDA, and with a lot of thought and prayer about the best way to help, the Aronoffs chose to give to MDA. At the same time they met one of Jerry's Kids, Lorinda. This meeting helped them realize the impact they could - and did - have on even just one child, and was the impetus behind their choice to make further gifts to the Association. Read More »

Marilyn Melton

Since the first broadcast of the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon in 1966, Marilyn Melton of Minnesota has been a loyal Telethon viewer and supporter, and has been touched by the stories of individuals and families who have been affected by neuromuscular disease, especially the children. Her love and concern for children has been reflected in all aspects of her life. As a mother of two preschoolers in the early 70’s, Marilyn brought four more children into her home to begin a home day care. Over the years, she advanced her career as an early childhood specialist and certified vocational teacher, taught early childhood development to adults, and served on the committee for the revision of state certification standards for group family day care throughout Minnesota. Read More »

Rose Pfister

Rose Pfister is the kind of person who chooses to view a glass of water holding half its capacity as half full, not half empty. She chooses to help others less fortunate, explaining her outlook on life this way: "If you get something, whether you've worked for it or not, then you should also give something in return because God keeps pretty good records."Rose says she's learned over the years that people never know when or how they're affecting another's life. For example, one summer day 80 years ago, Rose was a typical insecure, self-conscious, 14-year-old swimming with friends at the local public pool. On that day, a handsome young lifeguard singled her out of her group of friends by shouting, "Hey you, the girl with the good legs, come over here. I want to meet you." Read More »

Rosemarie Walrath

One of MDA's mantras is: "Disability does not diminish ability or creativity." Time and time again, we hear stories about people who've been handed the "disabled card," only to see them toss it aside and achieve greatness. A good example is Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist whose world-renowned scientific career spans more than 40 years. His books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity. Hawking has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a condition that has progressed over the years and left him almost completely paralyzed. And yet, his celebrated work continues. Read More »

Chris Shimon

Chris Shimon was born 48 years ago in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He works as an assistant activity coordinator at a care center for the elderly. He is the youngest of five children and, except for a three-year "visit" to Minnesota, he has lived all of his life in the town where he was born. Chris seems to be a simple, unpretentious man and, by all accounts, he leads a fairly standard life. So why do we feature Chris in this issue of the Legacy of Help & Hope Newsletter? Because Chris has a big caring heart, and enjoys helping others in need. Read More »

Paul Candide Fafard

Paul Candide Fafard, the youngest of eight children, has experienced a life full of challenges, achievements, recognition, joys, sorrows and most of all, hope. His challenges began early, when his mother passed away just three months after his birth. His father was distraught, and may have partly blamed Paul for her death. His father sent him to an orphanage where he remained for six years before his father reclaimed him. Read More »

Glen E. Guttormsen

August 15, 2010, was a day for celebrating the life of David K. Guttormsen. Diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in 1955, when he was 5 years old, David lived an active, involved and passionate existence - even graduating from college - before passing away at age 23. Although it's been 55 years since David received his diagnosis, and 37 years since he passed on, he continues to inspire his family to faithfully support the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and our efforts to eradicate muscle-damaging diseases like DMD. Read More »