Uniting for Muscle Strength

MDA families drive progress in the fight against neuromuscular disease

by Steven M. Derks on July 14, 2015 - 3:00pm

Quest Summer 2015

Since our last issue, we lost two giants who prominently represented all of us in the MDA family — former National Goodwill Ambassadors Mike Neufeldt and Benjamin Cumbo III. Mike brought an irrepressible sense of joy to everything he did, and Ben demonstrated remarkable grace and unfailing good humor throughout his lifelong battle against muscular dystrophy.

Steven M. Derks

As former National Goodwill Ambassadors, Mike and Ben were leaders for MDA and advocates for our community. They grew up with MDA and contributed greatly to our mission and our message. Both were shining examples of how our children are transitioning into adulthood and achieving new heights in education, employment and independence. Mike was a valued member of the Web team at Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee. And after recently completing his graduate studies and just a week before his passing, Ben accompanied MDA board and staff leaders to Capitol Hill to advocate for wise public policy affecting our community. 

The losses of Mike and Ben are a powerful reminder of the urgency of our mission to save and improve the lives of children and adults living with muscular dystrophy, ALS and other life-threatening diseases that take away strength and mobility. Our focus — today and every day — is fighting harder to find breakthroughs across diseases and provide better support and care to families in hometowns across America. 

Relentless pursuit of progress requires change. MDA is looking at the very best ways to achieve our mission and address the needs of children and adults like Ben and Mike. Change can be difficult, and we are immensely grateful for your steadfast support and trust. 

Recently, MDA announced that we are pivoting away from our beloved telethon. We will forever remember the many touching moments, inspiring celebrities and unforgettable families who — led by the remarkable Jerry Lewis — paved the way for where we are today: on the brink of real therapies to lengthen and improve lives with a line of sight to curative drugs, too. 

And, yes, we are committed to telling our families’ powerful stories, educating and engaging the public while expanding our community fundraising footprint using new, culturally relevant strategies and technology.

MDA was started by families for families, and we will never stop fighting for progress to help every child and adult living with a neuromuscular disease. We greatly value your continued support and partnership. Thank you. And in honor of Mike, Ben and all those we have lost to neuromuscular diseases and those who fight every day, we rededicate ourselves to helping children and adults — and the families who love them — live longer and grow stronger.

Steven M. Derks
President and CEO
Muscular Dystrophy Association

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