September is Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Month, and it is only fitting that we recognize our Transition2Work nonprofit partner, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), in this month’s Nonprofit Spotlight. At ReEmployAbility, we strive to connect people to a better purpose so they can have a better life, through our Transition2Work program. We believe that every action has the power to benefit a person in need, and thanks to our partnership with MDA we can provide a great service to people living with muscular dystrophy, ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease), and related neuromuscular diseases. We were privileged to interview Wendi Dressen, Senior Director of Volunteer Programs at MDA, for insight into the mission of the families they serve.
Spotlighting the Muscular Dystrophy Association
Through community engagement, the Muscular Dystrophy Association has been able to create connections, foster established relationships, and deepen its impact. For more than 70 years, MDA’s mission has been to accelerate research, advance care, and advocate to empower people living with neuromuscular diseases to live longer, more independent lives. The nonprofit provides support to children and adults from day one of diagnosis and throughout their life’s journey. Every day the organization empowers families across America through funding research, care, and advocacy for access, inclusion, and independence.
By funding research breakthroughs, with over $1 billion invested, MDA has accelerated the discovery of treatments, including over 20 FDA-approved treatments since 2015, and the first-ever gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy just recently approved. With all its accolades, MDA has maintained its status as the #1 voluntary health organization for people living with these conditions.
Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Proud Accomplishments
MDA has accomplished many things in the past decades, and the organization continues to find new innovative ways to support its community. MDA relies heavily on volunteers to advance its mission, from free summer camps where children living with neuromuscular disease participate in adaptive camp experiences like games, dances, and sports; to long-standing partnership-supported fundraising events like the IAFF Fill The Boot events; to community-rallying, awareness-building campaigns like the MDA Shamrocks.
MDA Summer Camp is a life-changing experience for campers with neuromuscular disease, volunteers, staff, and medical team members who support the program. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, MDA created a virtual summer camp option which continues today. Every day the nonprofit works hard to fulfill its mission and expand its reach.
Impacting Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Mission Through Return-to-Work
ReEmployAbility’s Transition2Work program not only benefits injured workers in their recovery but also provides a much-needed service to our nonprofit partners such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Dressen stated, “MDA couldn’t fulfill our goals without volunteers who work in support of the mission.” Developing a relationship with Transition2Work, and the provided volunteers, has significantly enhanced MDA’s ability to fulfill its mission and raise vital funds to support the organization’s community. The volunteers work as part of the MDA team to collect data, make phone calls, and connect with MDA partners to offer support during their fundraising campaigns.
During a time of inactivity and isolation, injured workers benefit from participating in the Transition2Work program by being engaged and contributing toward the greater good as a volunteer at MDA. Research from the Mayo Clinic Health System has shown that volunteering offers many health benefits, including improving physical and mental health, providing a sense of purpose, learning valuable skills, and nurturing relationships. MDA staff work closely with Transition2Work volunteers to supply them with needed direction and guidance to make a meaningful contribution and feel rewarded for their efforts.
With the help of Transition2Work and other volunteers, MDA is “making life-changing advancements for the people we serve, through research breakthroughs in treatments, the MDA-supported Care Center Network nationwide, and advocacy,” says Dressen. People living with neuromuscular disease have hope for a longer, more independent life. This hope is fueled by the pipeline of a promise for more life-empowering treatments and continues to grow for the millions of patients and their families who are at the heart of MDA’s mission and vision.
Visit www.mda.org to learn more about the organization and how you can get involved.
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