Joacob and Noah both have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The two served as honorary captains and received the game ball when the Buckeyes faced Cincinnati during Coach to Cure MD week. Thursday Jacob was presented with a check for $10,000. The funds will go towards the Coach to Cure MD fund in his name.
“It’s very overwhelming,” the boys’ father Chad Studebaker said after practice Thursday. “This is something that wasn’t expected. We just wanted to raise awareness for MD. We’re out to find a cure.”
The football players contributed what they could to the fund and their efforts were buoyed by donations from the Ohio State coaching staff. The family was presented with a check and a large signed photo of the pair walking out with the Buckeye captains before the Cincinnati game, a steely-eyed Jacob with a full game face on.
Tight end Jeff Heuerman and linebacker Joshua Perry spearheaded the fundraising efforts. “We came together as a team and said we want to take it one step further and we came up with the idea of a fundraiser where everybody donated money,” Heuerman said.
“They have a lot going on in their life. The fact that they can come to practice and make us smile and brighten our day when they have a lot going on, it’s really special. Them doing what they do motivates us.”
Duchenne’s MD is a gene mutation that causes a progressive loss of muscular function; those suffering from the disorder are usually diagnosed as children, in a wheelchair by their teen years and have a life expectancy of around 25. Jacob was diagnosed when he was 4.
Ever since that Friday Night Lights event the family has remained close to the program, attending practice at least once a week and has developed bonds with the team. Perry, who attended Olentangy Shanahan Middle School where Jacob is currently enrolled, said the family’s presence at practice puts things in perspective.
“Him being around kind of gives us motivation, makes us look in the mirror a little bit and assess what’s really going on with us,” the linebacker said. “Sometimes we might come out here and have a little bit of a bad attitude, but then you realize some people have a little bit more going on in their lives and we need to have a positive outlook.
“We love supporting them. Guys on this team have really taken on a service before self kind of mentality.”
That mentality was well served Thursday as the team sent $10,000 to fund research on the disease that is now so close to their hearts.