I met Brayden Graft when he was just five-days-old. Little did I know then the impact he would have on my life.
My friends Leanne and Tony had been fostering children for about five years and already had a baby at home when their social worker called about Brayden. They didn’t even think twice about taking him home.
You probably have friends just like Leanne and Tony. Humble, hardworking people with a ton of love to give. Leanne has always had a soft-spot for children, with four of her own, but as her kids grew up and left home she knew she and Tony had more love to give.
Eighteen-months-later they were offered the chance to adopt Brayden and once again they didn’t hesitate.
They couldn’t imagine life without him. He had become their precious, fun-loving son.
Just a couple of months later, Brayden was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).
This month, my team members and I celebrated International Firefighters’ Day., and in honour of that, I hope you will read Brayden’s story and consider making a donation to Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC).
Fire fighters across Canada have been partnering with MDC since 1954 to raise much needed funds for individuals impacted by neuromuscular disorders. Together, we are investing in research, delivering critical programs and services, and challenging public policy. But your support is needed too!
Brayden had been seeing a neurologist because of some complications from his birth. When his doctor began noticing a lack of muscle tone, he was sent for some additional testing.
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a tough phone call, you know exactly how Leanne and Tony felt right before they picked up the doctor’s call, half dread – half hope.
They were shocked. They had no idea what Duchenne was and spent the night scouring the Internet. That night ended with them knowing their son’s future had changed forever.
Thanks to generous donors, like you, MDC is able to invest in ground-breaking research that is leading to earlier diagnoses and better treatments. But currently no cure exists.
‘Until there’s a cure, there’s us’ has been a common phrase used by fire fighters over the years, because we are committed to helping MDC find a cure. And, we hope you’ll join us and consider making a gift today.
I still remember when Leanne and Tony told me. It was hard for all of us who love Brayden to reconcile the diagnosis with the happy little boy in front of us.
I think that a diagnosis like Duchenne can often be hardest on the friends and family. Because, Brayden is an amazing kid. I’ve never seen him without a smile on his face. And that smile can light up a room. He doesn’t let his diagnosis bring him down. He doesn’t dwell on it. He really lives life to the fullest every day.
At six, Brayden had to start a steroid treatment that has kept his DMD stable for the last few years. This treatment was a game changer for him. It’s thanks to donors like you, who help MDC invest in research, that these types of treatments are available to help individuals like Brayden.
For at least six months after he started the treatment, every time I visited, he would make me come to his room to see the new things he could do.
Before the treatment he didn’t have the strength to climb his bunk bed ladder.
Something any three or four-year-old could tackle. Now, he’ll climb all day long. His joy over that progress is infectious. We have donors like you to thank for that.
Much to my delight, two of Brayden’s favourite things in the world are playing outside and the fire department. Both myself and his other honorary uncle, Tim, are volunteer fire fighters, so he’s been exposed to the trucks and the excitement of the fire department a lot.
He’s always looked up to us but I didn’t realize just how much until he was offered a ‘wish’. It turns out Brayden’s first choice was to be a fire fighter for a day.
When we found out about the wish Tim and I were blown away. You know you have a special kid on your hands when he’s giving up Disneyland to do something in his own community.
The outpouring of support from our fire fighter community was immediate and huge.
We brought all three of the local departments together for a day of exciting drills, a prepared burn, and a giant parade in his honour. That day made him one of us – an honorary fire fighter – and that will never change.
Our fire fighter community hasn’t been the same since. This experience has opened our eyes to the incredible challenges’ individuals with a neuromuscular disorder face and the amazing work MDC does to support Canadians impacted.
I hope you will find it in your heart today, to make a donation so kids like Brayden have access to equipment when they need it; families have help navigating the health care system; and Canadians have access to life-changing treatments.
In a rural community, fire department resources and man hours are tight but we’ve found that giving back to Brayden and the path it’s led us down has opened us up to so much more joy than we could ever have imagined. And, we want you to experience that feeling too!
Our bond with other fire departments in our area has grown, and we’ve learned so much about the fire fighters’ commitment to MDC.
For more than 60 years fire fighters have been committed to helping Muscular Dystrophy Canada find a cure for neuromuscular disorders.
But our personal experience with Brayden, has proven to us just how important it is to support Canadians impacted by this terrible disorder.
Brayden inspires me every day to do more, to give more, to see who else we can help. I hope Brayden’s story will inspire you to make a donation today. Fire fighters are in this for life. Our commitment is unwavering. But we can’t do it alone. So please consider making a generous donation, so together we can help find a cure.
Honorary Uncle to Brayden & Volunteer Fire Fighter
P.S. There are thousands of Canadians, like Brayden, impacted by neuromuscular disorders. These disorders rob them of so much. You can help us put an end to muscular dystrophy by making a generous donation today.