DISABILITIES

By Daniel J. Vance

 

You may have seen Rob Roozeboom's appearance on the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon in September 2001 and 2002. Or watched him in Where Hope Begins, an 8-minute Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) video that promotes the association's goal of wiping out neuromuscular diseases.

He has one of nine known types of muscular dystrophy. "And 'limb-girdle' muscular dystrophy, one of those nine types, itself has about ten types that doctors so far have been able to identify," Roozeboom said to me recently from his northwest Iowa home. "And there could be as many as fifteen. My type of 'limb-girdle' affects my biceps, shoulders, thighs, and my gait."

Each type of muscular dystrophy involves a genetic mutation that results in an absence or deficiency of a protein necessary for muscular function. This leads to muscle deterioration and break down. Muscular dystrophy, in general, affects one birth in 2,000.

According to MDA's website, www.mdausa.org, limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) becomes apparent when a person's walk begins looking more like a "waddle" due to weakened hip and leg muscles. Affected persons may have difficulty rising from chairs and toilet seats. Some use a wheelchair. The disease isn't fatal, but it can lead to heart or respiratory problems. It doesn't affect the mind or senses, only muscle tissue, and has a varying speed of progression.

The 26-year-old Roozeboom, who walks without assistance, has had his trials. "It's a disadvantage [having LGMD] in high school. You don't want people staring at you and thinking you're different. When you're older, and in my case married, you don't care as much what others think."

But living in a small town, Sheldon, Iowa, does have benefits. "If I drop something on the sidewalk, people here do know me and will offer their assistance."

By profession now he is a motivational speaker, and he uses his disability as a tool to reach the hearts of all people, not just those with a disability. "I've spoken to school assemblies, businesses, churches, and youth groups, mainly on hope and overcoming adversity," he said. "I also speak for the national MDA office. They are fantastic people."

"How to hit a homerun when life throws you a curve" has been his slogan. He takes on 35-40 speaking engagements a year. You can reach Mr. Roozeboom through www.riseministries.com.

[Contact Mr. Vance at Box 154, Vernon Center MN 56090 or www.danieljvance.com. Copyright 2002 by Daniel J. Vance.]