The Central Valley Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association is teaming up with Lowe’s in Merced to send children with muscle-debilitating diseases to summer camp through its annual shamrock fundraiser.
Every year since Lowe’s opened in Merced, the store has raised money to send a child to MDA’s Central Valley Summer Camp in Groveland by selling paper shamrocks.
Muscular dystrophy is the term used for a group of diseases that cause muscles to progressively weaken because abnormal genes prevent the body from creating proteins needed to build muscle, according to the Mayo Clinic. Many symptoms appear in early childhood, and some people lose the ability to walk or swallow. There is no cure for muscular dystrophy, though there are many types of therapies to slow the symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s hard to know just how many people in the U.S. have muscular dystrophy. The disease is rare, and studies estimate 1 of every 5,600 to 7,700 males ages 5 to 24 have the disease, the CDC says.
The Central Valley Chapter of MDA sends about three Merced children to a summer camp outside of Yosemite every year. The specialized camp is wheelchair-accessible, and MDA accepts any children who apply, said Carrie Danny, executive director for the Central Valley Chapter.
Last year, the Merced Lowe’s raised the second-highest amount in its district. This year, the store is aiming to raise $10,000.
One child, Walker Murphy, 13, has formed a relationship with Lowe’s over the last couple of years through the fundraiser. Murphy, the son of Merced council member and mayoral candidate Mike Murphy, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was 4. Walker Murphy visits the Merced Lowe’s each year during the fundraiser and, in turn, Lowe’s employees visit him at camp.
“He’s a pretty awesome kid,” said Jane Lozano, a Lowe’s cashier and customer service employee. “It’s nice to see the difference each year as they grow up and grow older.”
Murphy said he likes seeing children with similar disabilities at camp each year. This year will be Murphy’s fifth time attending the camp.
Lozano said customers like to see that the money goes toward helping a local child.
This year’s camp theme will be the Olympics. The camp runs June 13-18.
The Lowe’s fundraiser will run through March 31, and shamrocks can be purchased for $1, $5 or $20.
For more information, visit www.mda.org/services/mda-summer-camp.