By ◆ Juppie on Friday, December 25, 2009 @ 10:41 AM


I got the inspiration for the name from "Wii Came, Wii Conquered" which was on the cover of an issue of the Nintendo Power magazine (it's an old edition, from a year or two ago).

I'm not talking about the Wii this time, though. The "we" I'm referring to is the eighth graders this year - in particular, my village. (Just in case you weren't aware, each grade at my school is divided into villages. Each village has teachers for the four core subjects - history, language arts, math, and science - for PE or your elective, your village doesn't matter.) We were having a fundraiser in the Week of Giving. The money would go to research for Duchenne Muscular Distrophy, a muscular problem that can be inherited (particularly in the X chromosome). 1 in every 3500 boys is affected by it. Females are less likely to get Duchenne because they have two X chromosomes, whereas males only have one (and of course, X is superior to Y. Hahahaha!).

I first heard of Duchenne when my school played a trailer for a movie called Darius Goes West. The trailer didn't really show how serious it was because it was busy saying things like "Buy a DVD - $17 goes to Duchenne research, $3 to making more movies" and "This is not a trailer, this is a vehicle". The movie was pretty funny too, but it was also deep. Darius is a boy (15 at the time of the movie, I'm not sure exactly how old he is now but he has graduated from high school) who has Duchenne. He was going to travel from his hometown of Athens, Georgia to Los Angeles (a.k.a. Hollywood), California to ask the show Pimp My Ride to make improvements to his wheelchair. Since many people watch MTV, he and his friends figured it would be a good chance to raise awareness of Duchenne and also get his wheelchair brought up to speed (it actually broke on the trip).

Duchenne makes your muscles degenerate, and it eventually affects your heart. Duchenne is fatal every time; you're lucky if you can even live to 25. Darius's brother, who also had Duchenne, died at the age of 19. Darius's brother had always tried to be strong and smiling, and Darius found his brother to be an inspiration, so he does his best to be optimistic himself. I was talking to an old teacher of mine and she said she was surprised by how Darius can laugh and enjoy himself and seemingly not be upset by the fact that he will probably die within a few years. I agree; I think I'd be devastated if I knew I would die young and there was no hope of saving me. But maybe different people deal with things differently.

I was kind of surprised that I didn't even know about Duchenne, despite the fact that so many people have it (in fact, who knows, I might carry the gene for it and not even know it. It wouldn't affect me as long as I have one good X chromosome). It makes me think that I really live a sheltered life. I live in a community where most people are middle class (and some make quite a lot of $$$; my mom has a friend who is already retired even though she is about the same age as my mother, and she and her husband are currently building a new house in Palo Alto), or at least you don't see many people living out on the streets, which is pretty good. One time at school we were being shown a video to promote our sense of charity, and there were pictures of people sleeping in cardboard boxes. Some of the students - I think they were boys - laughed. My teacher said, "I don't know if you think it was staged or something, but people really do live in cardboard boxes. They live in places like San Francisco, which are COLD in the winter. When my son is cold, I can have him put on more layers of clothing and turn on the heater and he won't be cold anymore. But a lot of people don't have that luxury." So I guess I am doing pretty well if I don't have to live off of Whole Foods cheese samples (and there aren't much of those nowadays anyhow).

I've never even met anyone who was disabled. I mean, I've seen people in wheelchairs but I've never really talked to someone who lacks the fine motor skills many of us have... The closed thing to that is my science teacher. She was injured in the 1989 earthquake (gives you an idea of how old she is! XD) and for a while she couldn't walk. She can walk now, but I think there isn't cartilage in her knees anymore or something like that. So when she goes hiking, she has to have someone stand in front of her, because she can't walk downhill without falling over.

Oh, my, I've gotten awfully sidetracked. Back to the fundraiser. My language arts teacher came up with an ingenious plan to best the 6th graders, who usually win the fundraisers since they are young and restless. She stashed bills in a box and didn't turn in much money so it would seem like us 8th graders were being lazy as usual. Then, on the last day, she donated all the money, and we won! In fact, by a big chunk, like $500 or so. It was amazing. This is the first time I have ever seen the 8th graders actually come out on top. I feel proud for having donated (even if it was only some dirty coins I dug out of my robot bank) and having been a part of this landmark achievement.

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