By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — CAMANCHE — In 1984, Cheryl Paasch’s 9-year-old twin boys, Jason and Joshua, were just starting to get involved in sports when she noticed something was unusual with their gaits.
After taking them to the doctor, she and her husband, Jim, learned that their boys had muscular dystrophy.
“It was very heartbreaking,” Paasch said.
At the time of their diagnosis, the outlook was not very bright. Jason and Joshua were not expected to live past their early 20s.
Family and friends came forward 25 years ago to offer their support by forming the Camanche Muscular Dystrophy Association fundraiser. Paasch said she is very fortunate to have wonderful friends who come through each year and help it run smoothly.
“We’re just very fortunate that Camanche has sponsored the event as long as it has and continues to do so,” Paasch said. “It’s helped our family be a little more open about it.”
Tammie Kooi, from the Camanche MDA Committee, became involved in the fundraiser 10 or 12 years ago due to her friendship with the Paasch family. She said approximately 20 volunteers are helping to put on this weekend’s fund-raising event.
The fundraiser will start Friday night with a basketball tournament, which will run through Sunday. The Saturday events at Imperial Lanes, 1823 S Washington Blvd., Camanche, will include a hog roast from 4 to 7 p.m., a cake auction, kiss the pig contest and raffles. A bags tournament will be held Sunday.
Advanced tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children. At the door, they are $9 for adults and $6 for children. Preschool children get in free.
New to this year’s event is a Sunday wine tasting and a $5 raffle. Raffle participants have a chance to win a Galaxy tablet, a $100 Visa gift card and a 42-inch television.
Since the event began 25 years ago, a total of $383,000 has been raised. Between this fundraiser and the Camanche Fire Department’s fill the boot event in August, Paasch said Camanche is the largest per- capita community for giving in Iowa.
Last year, the fundraiser collected more than $29,000. Organizers try to increase proceeds by at least $1 from the year before.
“That is our goal, to try to improve,” Kooi said.
The proceeds go to the MDA for patient services and research.
“Hopefully one day, even if my sons are not able to benefit, there will be patients who will benefit from what we are doing now in Camanche,” Paasch said.
Despite the life expectancy they were given at the time of their diagnosis, Jason and Joshua are now 39. Both have been using wheelchairs for almost 12 years. However, Paasch said they remain in generally good health and try to stay active.
“But they don’t let their inability become a disability,” Paasch said.
For the 25th anniversary, the committee plans to recognize past sponsors. The event will also highlight the very first team to win the basketball tournament.
“So we’re trying to bring back some of the past people and teams that have been involved as well,” Kooi said.