Today I learned of the passing of my old childhood buddy Jon Gardner. He was just 31, killed by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
I still carry with me countless memories from when we were kids, goofing around together every summer at MDA camp; pranking counselors, painting things we probably shouldn’t have, throwing water balloons and racing wheelchairs, and being totally free for the best week of the year.
I’ll never forget Jon. He had a big heart and an encouraging smile. He lived a life that was full of joy despite adversity; a life that mattered; a life that we can all learn from. I am heartbroken by his loss, but I celebrate his remarkable spirit. And I am emboldened in my quest to put an end to muscular dystrophy.
This disease is absolutely devastating. Unremitting. Ruthless and ravenous. Relentless. There’s something unspeakably tragic about this disease.
There’s something unspeakably tragic about a defenseless body slowly and mercilessly suffering the loss of muscle after muscle after muscle until it can simply take no more. There’s something unspeakably tragic about a sharp and agile mind helplessly enduring physical and mental anguish at the hands of a debilitating disease that only grows more dissonant with each passing day. There’s something unspeakably tragic about a young, innocent soul surrendering to the reality that they will inevitably lose their battle against a faceless and fatal enemy within.
Once again, muscular dystrophy has taken a wonderful person from this world way too soon. Once again, muscular dystrophy has robbed a young man of a promising future and ripped him away from those who needed him most. Once again, muscular dystrophy has forced loving parents to bury their precious child. Once again, muscular dystrophy has claimed a life that it had no right to claim.
RIP Jon. Fly high, brother. Fly high.