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Thursday, August 30, 2007

He was the poster child for the Muscular Dystrophy Association: Michael Spencer

Michael Spencer, 33, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was 4, started using a wheelchair at 9, and lived a full life that inspired others. Twice he was a poster child for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

Michael died Saturday in his Lorain, Ohio home, of respiratory failure that was a complication of his disease, said his mother, Gladys. He had duchenne muscular dystrophy, a neuromuscular disease in which muscles become progressively weaker, she said.

In 1981, he was the Ohio Poster Child for the MDA, and in 1982 was named the Northeast Ohio MDA Poster Child. He made many television appearances and was involved in several community projects to help raise money for the MDA.

He was 6 when he participated in several MDA "boot drives" conducted by Lorain, Ohio firefighters. One year he traveled to Washington, D.C., with his family and helped firefighters there with an MDA boot drive.

At 17, Michael received the Northeast Ohio MDA's Personal Achievement Award on March 25, 1992. The award recognized him for his accomplishments and inspiration to others afflicted with any of the 40 neuromuscular diseases.

Advice: Telling your story publicly, like Michael did, can help others with your disease.

Read one of our stories on a survivor of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or read more from the source article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by Wally Guenther on August 29.

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