Avera Medical Minute: Living w/ Neuromuscular Disease - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute: Living w/ Neuromuscular Disease

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Lee Stricherz with girlfriend Liz Koppen in their Sioux Falls apartment. Lee Stricherz with girlfriend Liz Koppen in their Sioux Falls apartment.

The 44th Annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon is fast approaching and once again KSFY will be bringing it to you all day on September 7th. This year the local portion of the telethon will be broadcast live from under the dome at the Avera Sports Institute in Sioux Falls.  We caught up with a 24 year old who lives in Sioux Falls and is living with a neuromuscular disease. 

24 year old Lee Stricherz is enjoying the most important meal of the day thanks to the most important person in his life, his girlfriend of 2 years, Liz Koppen. Most of us wouldn't think twice about making a piece of toast, but Lee has Freidriech's Ataxia.  It's a hereditary degenerative neuromuscular disease that makes making a piece of toast a far more difficult task than you can imagine.

Lee says, "She helps me do everything.  I mean a lot of stuff I probably don't realize she does for me but I don't know how I'd do it without her. I probably would be in bed all day. She gets me out and doing stuff I never thought I'd do. We go kayaking."

Lee has one of the 40 forms of muscular dystrophy and neuromuscular disease that MDA works tirelessly to find a cure for. They do it with your help through fund raising efforts year round and the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.  Avera Neurologist Dr. Karen Garnaas is a neuromuscular specialist who works closely with MDA and the people they serve.

Dr. Garnaas with Neurology Specialists says, "MDA is a wonderful organization that helps people, not only live with the disease, which is what we have to do. We are going to partner together and try and give you the optimal quality of life because there is a lot of living to do when you live with a neuromuscular disease, but at the same time they (MDA) are pursuing a lot of research. That creates a great deal of hope for the future that we can offer more than just the supportive care that we offer now."

Lee was diagnosed at the age of 14 after his mom took him to a neurologist because he showed signs of being wobbly when he walked. In the last 10 years he's gone from walking to relying on this power wheelchair and struggling with slurred speech. Nothing is wrong with his brain, it's his body that's failing him.

Lee says, "Everything is getting harder and you don't realize it until something happens and you're like wow I can't do this. I could yesterday or 2 days ago."

Life goes on and so does the fight for my friend Lee and for MDA. Please keep the hope alive by pledging to help this Labor Day and give from the heart.

KSFY will be broadcasting the telethon all day on Monday Sept. 7th from 7am until 6pm LIVE from the Avera Sports Institute. You can call in your donation or drop by the dome. KSFY and MDA are thankful for Avera's generosity along with telethon hosts Danny Collins from 100.5 KIKN Country, Ben Davis from the MIX 97-3 and Mitch Krebs from Avera McKennan.


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