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By Daniel J. Vance MS, LPC, NCC

Life has been a journey for Mike Wilbourn of Sacramento, California, who reads this column on SacramentoToday.com.

First, it was his son, Brad. “When he was about four months old, he was having pulmonary problems,” said 63-year-old Wilbourn in a telephone interview. “Our doctor took one look at him and said he needed to be in a hospital.” The original diagnosis was for what doctors now call spinal muscular atrophy. Specialists in St. Louis over time settled on some unidentified form of muscular dystrophy.

Wilbourn said, “So we went through some genetic testing and learned we had one chance in a million of it affecting another child. And it affected another child. We had a son a few years after Brad, and then two years after that we had a daughter, Lindsey. It affected her.”

Both Brad and Lindsey were born on Father's Day five years apart. Their mother couldn't handle the stress and wanted out, which left Wilbourn to raise their children alone for ten years. Today, 31-year-old Brad weighs 100 pounds and sister Lindsey, 65. They use power wheelchairs and have service dogs.

“Social issues has been my chief concern for them,” said Wilbourn. “They have great personalities, but people tend to shy away from people in wheelchairs. What helped Brad was getting into a Boy Scout troop. I can't say enough about what that group did with Brad. His Boy Scouting experience gave me one-on-one time with him, too. We went camping together and to the National Jamboree in Virginia. He is an Eagle Scout.”

Lindsey, who has a great sense of humor, especially enjoyed attending a Muscular Dystrophy Association camp in northern California. She has been taking undergraduate classes at Sacramento State and earning good grades in chemistry and biology, her loves. “She would be a great friend to anyone,” he said.

“And they have an apartment together,” he added. “They are like an old married couple sometimes. They argue back and forth and are fun to watch.” Brad and Lindsey have weakened muscles, 25 percent lung capacity, and have had spinal fusions from neck to tailbone. Due to their being unable to bear weight, they can't transfer from their power wheelchairs without help. However, they don't need any help eating or brushing teeth. Lindsey puts on her own makeup, which she likes wearing for most any occasion.

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