BUDA – Five-year-old Owen Slock of Buda is just like any other kid his age.
He loves watching cartoons – especially Spongebob SquarePants and Charlie Brown. He loves to swim, play his Wii, ride four-wheelers with his dad and go outside when the weather is nice.
With his good-natured, cheerful personality and big, cheesy grins, it’s tough to tell Owen is actually battling a serious disease called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). The uncured illness is a recessive X-linked form of muscular dystrophy, and results in muscle degeneration over time.
His mother, Jamie Harrod, remembers the exact day Owen was diagnosed – Oct. 2, 2012.
“It was awful,” she said. “It’s still horrible. We’re still learning new things everyday, but there’s a lot of deaths in this disease.”
The statistics say Owen will be in a wheelchair by age 10, and the lifespan of a person diagnosed with DMD is late 20s or 30, said Jamie.
When Owen was a baby, Jamie and his dad, Tim Slock, noticed there was something odd about how their son didn’t like to jump, run or crawl and had a hard time standing up.
Jamie and Tim took Owen to the doctor, but the doctor said he was just behind in his growth and would eventually catch up.
When Owen enrolled in preschool and was still having issues, teachers helped Jamie and Tim get to the bottom of what was happening.
Doctors in Peoria finally were able to give an answer.
Tim explained it was scary when he found out what was really wrong with his son.
“We didn’t know anything about it and never heard of it before,” he said.
It’s been six months sense the diagnosis and lives have changed for Owen and his family.
“It’s just a lot more in your life,” Jamie said. “I don’t like to say it, but he will be in a wheelchair, eventually.”
Luckily, a huge support system surrounds Owen and his family. Owen’s step-dad, Adam Linder, and step-mom, Nikki Culjan, also play huge roles in his life.
When things get overwhelming for Jamie, she goes to Nikki for support.
“I call her my best friend. She is my best friend,” Jamie said. “I can’t imagine not having it this way. It would make things more stressful if we didn’t all have each other.”
The two couples work together to support Owen and give each other a shoulder to lean on when things get tough.
“We’re all going through it together,” Nikki said. “It’s brought us all much closer.”
The couples have been working together the last few months to help bring awareness to DMD. They attended the December DMD walk in Chicago and are participating in a second walk in the big city today, Saturday.
They’ve customized bracelets and drink koozies to sell for donation money for the walks and to help out for transportation costs with traveling back and forth to Chicago to see Owen’s current doctor. Jamie said she’s also hanging onto ideas for bringing a local walk together for DMD.
For now, Owen is just another kindergarten student at Bureau Valley South who is turning 6 in a few weeks.
“He loves school, and he’s very, very smart,” Jamie said. “He’s got amazing classmates and amazing teachers that support him.”
Owen’s family has started a prayer page on Facebook, where updates on Owen’s progress are recorded and information about DMD is available. Anyone who is interested in joining the page can find it at www.facebook.com/prayforowen.com.
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