Family spreads hope for others touched by muscular dystrophy

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ROTHSCHILD, Wis. (WSAW) -- One Wisconsin family is set to travel the state, talking about their experience with muscular dystrophy.

Holly and Josh Szymczak pose on a Harley-Davidson (WSAW Photo).

The 2020 Muscular Dystrophy Association ambassadors appeared at Bull Falls Harley-Davidson Saturday to take photos, check out a Wausau fire truck and introduce themselves as the new faces of MDA.

"A feeling of helplessness," said John Szymczak, describing what it was like when his kids were delayed in movement and speech.

When Josh and Holly Szymczak were growing up, their parents, John and Denise, didn't understand why they were missing developmental milestones.

"We were to a point where we were like, 'there's nothing we can do, we've done everything,'" Symczak.

But after a muscular dystrophy diagnosis, they got involved with their MDA clinic for specialized care.

Both parents say, in talking with other parents and doctors at MDA, they've turned that feeling of hopelessness into excitement about the future.

"There's no cure, but the MDA has had nine treatments or medicines approved in the past five years," said Abby Forcey, a development specialist with the MDA.

"Working with our doctors, we now have hope," said Szymczak.

Hope for a cure, and a connection with people living the same experience. The MDA offers a free summer camp to its clients, where many meet and connect.

"It gives you a little light at the end of the tunnel, that you know there's something there that can possibly help you or people you can relate to that know what you're going through," said Denise Szymczak.

At events like this Harley-Davidson photoshoot Saturday, they spread their hope and understanding around the state.

"Your kids have other kids they can play with that are just like them and know what they're going through. I always tell my son, when he was little, to describe muscular dystrophy, that he was like a chocolate cookie missing his chocolate chips. Because then all his friends would relate to that and say, 'oh, we like sugar cookies," she said.

The Wausau Fire Department raises money every year for the MDA, as does Harley-Davidson, with an annual charity ride to take place later this year.