The sun shines brightly on the crisp morning of Saturday, October 19. The leaves are changing to brilliant oranges and reds as a crowd of people gather at Eastern Christian’s High School campus. In the middle of the crowd a little boy stands beaming with excitement. His name is Isaac Hennessy and this fun run is a special event, just for him.
Isaac is an energetic ten year old who attends EC’s upper elementary school and enjoys playing kickball, swimming, and talking to just about everyone. He is just like any other kid, except that he lives with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (or DMD). This is a rare disease that causes the deterioration of muscle ,but that doesn’t stop him from enjoying life as a ten year old should. The Homecoming Fun Run is an event held both as a fundraiser and as a celebration for Isaac as he gets to be surrounded by a loving community.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a rare genetic disability that affects young boys. The severity of the disease differs from case to case as Isaac’s mother, Mrs. Krista Hennessy states, “Some kids are wheelchair bound by 5 years old and other cases have it where they are 21 and still walking.”
Since August of 2016, the month of Isaac’s diagnosis, there has been an “exceeding amount of research and progress.'' The first possible cure for another type of DMD was FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved that same month. Mrs. Hennessy expresses that there is hope.
Isaac’s specific condition has no known cure; however, there are treatments like medication and therapy that can help slow down the process. The disease causes deterioration and weakening of muscle, but Isaac is still able to run around on the playground with friends at recess.
Mrs. Hennessy is very open about her family’s unique journey and often takes to social media to share Isaac’s story. In one Facebook post she writes, “Knowing how much God loves Isaac and how it must break God’s heart to see him affected by DMD, it actually shows tremendous restraint that He hasn’t healed him right now.” She strongly believes that God has a greater purpose for her son and his story even if it is not the way she envisioned it.
Mrs. Hennessy is very passionate about the treatment of people with disabilities in society. When asked what she would like the student body to know about such individuals she responded with a Bible chapter, John 9.
This is the chapter where Jesus was healing the blind man, but she explained that “Jesus saw the man for who he was; the person he was; not the disability.” The disability was second in Jesus’ mind and she says that it should be the same for us. She stated that, “It is easier to ignore the disabled grocery bagger, the man in the wheelchair at church, or the classmate who may be cognitively impaired than to engage with them”. As Christians, Mrs. Hennessy believes that we are called to act differently and love our neighbors especially if we feel that they are different from us.
The Isaac Hennessy Fun Run was a great event that helped the EC community celebrate and include Isaac. So much of his life is spent in hospitals and doctors offices, but this special day provides and activity where he can enjoy being a kid.
The event had 96 participants and many more encouraging onlookers as children and adults alike participated in the run to raise money for this year’s charity. The Family Outreach Foundation (TFOF) is a small group that assists with families and provides grants for individuals with disabilities. They help families and medical practices in a variety of different ways and for many different disabilities, even though they are quite small.
Despite Isaac’s diagnosis, he thrives in school and connects well with other students, Mrs. Hennessy wrote, “Isaac is highly social, and enjoys talking to anyone. In particular, he enjoys the company of senior citizens.” Another source says, “He is a very friendly kid with a huge smile on his face and joy in his heart.”
Issac is surrounded by a loving community at home and at school. “So many come around us with more love and support than we deserve, but gratefully accept. We know this is not the case for many families with disabilities. EC has truly gone above and beyond in supporting our family.”
In another Facebook post, Mrs. Hennessy detailed the sadness of the day that Isaac was diagnosed and said, “I wouldn’t see him get married, have children, etc., due to the shortened lifespan this disease would most likely cause.” Issac responded to her hurt with, “You didn’t know that you were going to be there for all those things before either.” He bravely pointed out that anything can happen in life and that this was just another challenge. Mrs. Hennessy stated later in that post that, “there is only one cure for the human condition of death and disease. Jesus.”