His name is Mitch and he could sure use your help.
He sits in a wheelchair and he looks out the window of his South Jordan house and he dreams about what it would be like. Not to go outside and jump on the trampoline or maybe shoot a basketball, but just to be able to walk.There was a time when he could, before he was 8.
But he's 14 now, and all he can do is sit . . . and hope.
Mitch has a form of muscular dystrophy called "Duchenne," which is like getting a visit from the mafia and finding out it's the Corleone family. Duchenne is only found in boys and there is no easy way to put this - it is a killer. By preventing the body from producing dystrophin, the protein that builds muscles, Duchenne simply atrophies you to death.
Duchenne victims can make it to age 17 but rarely to age 20. That gives Mitch, a boy whose upper arm is the size of Merlin Olsen's ring finger, three years.
But there is hope. It rests in a procedure called myoblast cell therapy, which, in layman's terms, involves taking muscle cells from normal 14-year-old boys, putting them in a machine, producing 60 billion of them, and inserting them into Mitch's body. After that, they shut down Mitch's immune system - so it won't kill the new cells - place him in a sterile environment, let his body get used to the new cells, and, bingo, the body starts producing dystrophin like it's supposed to.
This isn't theory. This works.
But it costs. The price of life in this case: $350,000 in round numbers.
To even qualify to spend the $350,000 isn't easy. First, you must take a test to show you have enough muscle pressure.
When he was 13 and first heard about the myoblast miracle, Mitch flew to Memphis, took the test, and failed.
Picture this. An adolescent in a wheelchair whose wildest dream is to BE a 90-pound weakling flying home after being told he couldn't have the operation that would save his life.
Dejection? Despair? Shuts himself in his room and doesn't talk or eat?
Hah! Not Mitch Curtis. He stretched, he breathed, he let his mother, Jackie, toss him in a pool. He had five surgeries in four months to straighten his muscles.
A year later - this past July - he was back in Memphis, taking the test again.
This time he didn't just pass, he passed so high the doctors held his charts and mumbled, "Would you look at this!"
The moment they found out he passed, that's the moment they started to raise the $350,000. Before the Curtises even got home from Memphis their neighborhood held an auction in the cul-de-sac and raised five grand.
Name a way to raise money, they're trying it. How could they not? They told Mitch to do his part - pass that darn test - and then they'd do their's.
They've put more than 200 donation jars in convenience stores and restaurants. They've organized raffles and rallies. This past Saturday they held Mitch Curtis Day at the South Jordan Park. On Nov. 6 they'll hold a dinner-dance and auction.
They're up to $35,000. They've got a long way to go, and they need the first $150,000 by the end of October, so the operation can be held the first of December. If a corporation would call, you could hear the shriek as far away as Memphis.
Will they make it? Jackie thinks so. "My friend Marsha told me, `You'll be surprised. At the last, just when you need it, somebody will come through,' " she said. "So that's what we're doing - having faith somebody will help Mitch."
Tax-exempt donations can be sent to the Cyprus Credit Union, care of Mitch Curtis fund-raising, or Draper Bank, care of the Barbara Anne DeBoer Foundation, earmarked for Mitch Curtis. Scott and Jackie Curtis can be reached at 254-6487. Or you can find a Circle K or 7-Eleven in the south end of the valley and stuff till you drop.
Mitch would appreciate it. His dreams are simple. He wants to live. He wants to walk.