Million-dollar windfall to help Save Our Sons

An annual campaign to fight a devastating form of muscular dystrophy has raised a whopping $1 million.

Australia’s leading Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy charity has received a $1 million boost during the 2023 Save Our Sons campaign.

The campaign included the ninth annual Walk4Duchenne, which saw participants walk from Brisbane to the Gold Coast to raise funds and awareness of the severe muscle-wasting condition that affects one in 3500 boys and a small number of girls.

Chemist Warehouse also raised money through a massive in-store initiative across its Australia-wide network during March.

Save Our Sons founder Elie Eid says funds raised will go towards providing various support services and research.

“This donation will allow us to grow and continue to support the vital work funding nurses and specialists in our hospitals, research, advocacy as well as access to resources, services and better care of our families,” he says.

Chemist Warehouse director Mario Tascone says the team is ecstatic with the amount raised this year by the Walk4Duchenne and in-store fundraising.

“Within the Chemist Warehouse family, we have experienced the diagnoses of Duchenne and we remain committed and passionate about standing alongside Save Our Sons as they take on this cruel disease in any way they can,” Mario says.

“Over the past eight years, Chemist Warehouse has been proud to raise funds and awareness for the vital work conducted by Save Our Sons.”

What is Duchenne muscular dystrophy?

The Walk4Duchenne and Save Our Sons campaign are an annual step towards finding a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Muscle weakness is the primary symptom of DMD and can begin from age two to three.

The muscles closest to the core of the body are affected first and the legs are affected before the arms.

A child might have difficulty with movement and could frequently fall over, have enlarged calf muscles and show delays in language development.

To date, there is no cure and those with the condition usually have a life expectancy in their early to mid-20s.

This donation will allow us to grow and continue to support the vital work funding nurses and specialists in our hospitals, research, advocacy as well as access to resources, services and better care of our families.

How the Save Our Sons Duchenne Foundation helps families

Leigh and Belinda Shorter’s life changed inconceivably in December 2013.

They received the news that sons Max and Will, then aged 4 and 3, had the neuromuscular disease that would progressively destroy their muscle tissue, leaving them unable to walk, talk or breathe on their own.

In the cruellest of blows, just 18 months later they were told youngest son Hudson also had Duchenne.

“Before the boys were diagnosed, I’d never even heard about Duchenne’s, it was absolutely heartbreaking and I think Leigh and I were both numb,” Belinda, of Ballarat in central Victoria, says.

“Like all parents we had our hopes and our dreams for the kids and now all that has had to change.

“Sometimes we think, how much can two people take, but it’s amazing what you learn to deal with and right now we are just concentrating on giving our kids the very best life we can.”

That involves travelling with their young family whenever they can, and embracing life in their local community where 13-year-old Max, now permanently in a wheelchair, is a staunch supporter of the Geelong Cats, and Will and Hudson, 12 and nine respectively, play with their local cricket club.

The family is also heavily involved with the Save Our Sons Duchenne Foundation, the peak body in Australia for those living with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy.

“Save Our Sons has done so much for us, providing equipment like a mobility scooter for Max and a SeaDoo Seascooter to help the boys swim,” Belinda says.

“They’ve advocated for our family at schools and in the community and helped us to connect with other families as well as giving us access to invaluable information on all aspects of Duchenne.”

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Written by Liz McGrath. Updated by Melissa Hong, April 2023.