Michael Dickerson shares a light moment with little Daniel and his mother, Marina.
Michael Dickerson (42) from Hoedspruit was participating in a trail running series when he met Daniel Otto (six), a boy suffering from congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD).
CMD is a group of muscle diseases that occur at birth or during early infancy and is characterised by diminished muscle tone, according to rarediseases.org.
“With progressive muscle weakness, a common symptom of CMD, Daniel has lost the ability to walk and stand on his own,” said Marina Otto (39), Daniel’s mom.
Despite his medical condition, Daniel is a positive and happy child.
She explained that it is impossible for Daniel to sit upright by himself and he is also unable to climb, crawl, walk, run or jump like regular kids.
“All he wants is to be just like them. But despite his many challenges, he still has a playful spirit and is a really smart young man,” she added.
When Michael met Daniel, he was inspired by his positivity and bravery. Learning about his condition and the pressure his family is under to cover his extensive medical costs without medical aid. This is why Michael wanted to help the family.
Hoping to raise R161, 000, Michael set up a campaign on donations based crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy and pledged to participate in the Karkloof 100, a 161 km run which took place earlier this week in KZN.
The ‘non-stop’ trail run, which is in it’s second year, is the ultimate test of human endurance and participants are given a total of 36 hours to complete the course. Last year, only 25 out of 46 participants managed to complete the course successfully.
“I decided to take on this race in honor of Daniel as he doesn’t have the ability or privilege to run and enjoy the freedom he deserves. The Karkloof 100 is symbolic of the struggles he has faced in his short life and the perseverance he shows on a daily basis. I hope to be as brave as him one day,” he added.
The campaign went live on July 23, 2018. Funds raised through the ‘Lion Heart’ BackaBuddy campaign will be used to enhance Daniel’s quality of life and purchase specialised equipment to help improve his mobility.
“I can’t imagine what this family is going through and the pressure they must feel as their medical bills become astronomically more expensive. I hope the public will support my BackaBuddy campaign for this tenacious young man,” Michael added.
Michael Dickerson embraces Daniel for his strength and determination.
He carried Daniel’s photo with him for courage as he took on the Karkloof 100. When he expressing his pre-race nerves to Daniel, he was met with the perfect response.
“You don’t have to be scared, Michael, because I am not scared at all,” said Daniel.
The little boy still has a chance of a ‘normal’ life and lifespan and depending on increased mobility, doctors might be able to elongate his tendons in an attempt to get him walking again.
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