I’m Gifted Because of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

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by Hawken Miller |

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No matter who you are, life will throw you seemingly impossible challenges. It will make you question everything. If you believe in God like me, I’m sure you have asked, “Why are you letting this happen to me?”

In reading a Christian book titled “Faith That Engages the Culture,” I found a clear answer to the question, “Why have you given me Duchenne muscular dystrophy?” I’ve been looking at things the wrong way. I am a gifted person, not a cursed one.

The author, Alfonso Espinosa, PhD, who frequents my father’s Bible study, interviewed a special education expert. She views those with disabilities or any special needs as truly “gifted.”

Espinosa elaborates: “What is meant by gifted is that they are given an exceptional status or ability that can help others and improve the community.”

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This may seem counterintuitive. At face value, a disease that robs young men of their lives and physical independence might not seem like much of a gift. We might not always feel “gifted” because we are too busy focusing on the negative aspects of our lives rather than the positive ones.

When I read this section of the book a few weeks ago, I was thoroughly touched. People with disabilities truly have the gift of changing the lives of others.

This idea has been so clear in my life. Even writing this column has allowed me to connect with more people than I ever thought possible. I’ve received messages from people in Uganda, Australia, and the country of Georgia asking for advice and tips about how to live with this disease.

I can barely do any physical activity, but my mind is clear. I’m forced to slow down and observe my surroundings. I imbibe the world around me. Words come naturally. These are gifts I would have never developed if I didn’t have Duchenne.

I might not have ever discovered writing if I wasn’t diagnosed with this disease. In high school, I wouldn’t have found my publications club and started producing the yearbook, then the newspaper. Knowing how athletic I wish I could be, I probably would have been the first to sign up for team sports. I am gifted because Duchenne — like a limp, blindness, paralysis, or a scar — is part of who I am and has molded me into the person I am today.

It doesn’t matter what the disability is — we are all gifted. Those with disabilities inspire parents, family, and friends to start organizations that aim to find a cure for others who are affected. Their tenacity, love, and courage are shining examples for people around them who are suffering.

We are gifted in how we inspire people. If they see how we surmount a glaring physical problem with joy, how much more can they master their own demons?

We need to realize we are gifted if we are to change the world. It allows us to confidently approach every day with purpose. Understanding that gives us power over the false idea that we aren’t good enough.

Remember, you are gifted!


Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.

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Raymond A Huml avatar

Raymond A Huml

Hawken is indeed gifted and it is an honor knowing him, reading his Hawk's-Eye Views, and collaborating with him to honor and suport those with rare diseases. I was thankful that he contributed to a book I wrote on rare disease drug develpment. I look forward to hearing his views as a panelist as we honor those with rare diseases during our Rare Disease Day acitivities at Syneos Health. Hawken is a game changer and an encouragement to many. - Dr. Raymond A. Huml

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