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Community Rallying to Help 29-Year-Old With Muscular Dystrophy

Emily Progin, PR and Communications Coordinator / 800.642.8399


Derek Needs a New Van to Get to Appointments, Concerts, Outings, and More

LEHIGHTON, Pa.—Like many other adults his age, Derek Szena loves traveling, sports, concerts, movies, and amusement parks. But Derek’s life looks a little different from the average 29-year-old. Living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Derek has limited physical capabilities and uses a power chair to get around. His community is rallying to ensure that Derek can keep accessing medical care and enjoying all that life has to offer. They’ve partnered with the nonprofit Help Hope Live to fundraise for a new accessible van for Derek.

“Life has not always been easy for me,” admits Derek. He was diagnosed with DMD at birth and began relying on a wheelchair in elementary school. The past few decades have included multiple surgeries and becoming reliant on a ventilator to breathe and a feeding tube. Derek graduated from DeSales with a digital art degree, making it to the finish line despite a lung collapse and surgery during his college years. “My disease will continue to progress,” he explained, “but I plan to be here for a lot longer.”

Derek has a wide range of interest and hobbies: “I’m passionate about design, creativity, and doing things for others, and I love participating in things with the people I care about.” Pursuing concerts, special events, time in the outdoors, and more gives Derek the opportunity to fully engage with his community and his world. He’s lived in Lehighton for 22 years.

Derek’s accessible van is an essential part of that equation—but there’s a problem. “My current vehicle has had many issue and repairs over the past few months,” explained Derek. “It’s no longer a reliable source of transportation, so I’ve missed out on many activities and events that I greatly enjoy. It will also affect my ability to get to important doctor appointments.” Several of Derek’s specialists are located more than four hours from home.

Insurance has refused to help with the cost of a new accessible van. Derek is on the hook for $40,000 out-of-pocket to stay mobile. “Unfortunately, due to my limited income and inability to pursue a full-time job, a purchase like this is just out of the question,” Derek explained.

To help lift this burden, his loved one have turned to the trusted national medical fundraising nonprofit Help Hope Live. Make a donation at:

Unlike a GoFundMe campaign, Help Hope Live donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law, and all funds raised will be managed by the nonprofit to cover verified medical and related expenses. Help Hope Live verifies medical and financial need for every patient.

Derek is grateful for the support: “I want to continue to live this life I’ve been given to the fullest.”

Help Hope Live is a national nonprofit that specializes in engaging communities in secure, tax-deductible fundraising campaigns for people who need a transplant or are affected by a catastrophic injury or illness. Since 1983, campaigns organized by Help Hope Live have raised over $165 million to pay patient expenses. ###

Written by Emily Progin