When 8-year-old Peyton Marquez was diagnosed with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy in 2013, his family was determined to turn the negative into a positive.
Hundreds of people hike to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park every day, but Peyton Marquez’s family is pretty sure that none of them have muscular dystrophy.
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The 8-year-old Saugus resident made the 17-mile climb on May 29, carried on the back of his father and several friends who joined them for the journey.
Peyton was diagnosed with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy in January 2013, a form of dystrophy that causes increasing muscle weakness as a child ages and usually requires them to use a wheelchair by the age of 12.
It is a fatal disease with no cure, and patients typically live into their early 30s, according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Ethan Marquez, Peyton’s father, said he was inspired to do the hike after Peyton expressed a desire to climb Half Dome at a family vacation.
He wanted to give his son a chance to do something that others with his condition typically are not able to experience.
“With his disease, you’re up against time,” Ethan Marquez said. “…It makes you realize in life, if there’s something you want to do, you’ve got to do it.”
Ethan and Peyton Marquez were accompanied by Ethan’s wife Bonnie, their 10-year-old son, Logan and seven other friends.
Peyton was carried in a special backpack made to accommodate an older child and during the final ascent from Sub Dome to the top of Half Dome, Ethan Marquez said that he was tethered to the two people in front of him, while someone else brought up the rear, to ensure he didn’t fall while carrying Peyton.
Once at the top Peyton had a great time, Ethan Marquez said, but he doesn’t know if his son understands the magnitude or meaning of the hike–to inspire others with similar disabilities and to raise awareness about the disease.
Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy is hard to notice if you’re not familiar with the symptoms, Ethan Marquez said.
Their family often hikes in Towsley Canyon, and he has noticed the curious expressions on people’s faces when they see Peyton in a backpack.
“To the average person, he looks like a normal kid,” Ethan Marquez said.
And he is not about to let obstacles stop his son from getting the most out of life.
Ethan Marquez hopes next year to take Peyton on the 200-mile Seattle to Portland bike ride, towing him in a bike trailer.
“We decided that we had to do something,” he said, describing the aftermath of Peyton’s diagnosis. “We had to turn this negative into a positive somehow.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News