Apparently, I’m in big trouble. I need your help.
At 11 a.m. Wednesday, I’m reporting to jail.
Have I done something bad? Well, yes, no doubt. But that’s not why I’m being sent to the pokey.
The point here is to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Some funds will help send kids to MDA’s summer camp in Empire. For families in Western Colorado who have kids with muscular dystrophy, the money also will help in other ways. There are about 17 such families in the Durango area.
Of every dollar raised by the local event, 77 cents will remain in the Durango area to help local families, said Kendall Montagriff, executive director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Western Colorado.
I’m going to the slammer because someone – perhaps a friend, perhaps a co-worker, perhaps YOU (friend? foe?) – decided to volunteer me. You can volunteer someone anonymously, which is pretty underhanded, and so far no one has fessed up.
In any case, the cause is just. So I’m not mad. Just worried.
It is called the MDA Lock-Up. I’ll be in the pen at Steamworks Brewing Co. until I make bail or they decide to let me out. I may be in there a long time, drinking beer until I run out of money, then sleeping in the restroom at night and hiding in the attic by day.
If you think this is what I deserve, then fine, go ahead and do nothing. But I would rather you donated, say, even as little as $5 or $10 to the cause. If you don’t help me make bail, then I will have to go through Bill May or Speed Bail or one of the other bail bondsmen listed in the phone book – my God, there are 12!
Why is it called a lockup? This didn’t really occur to me till it was spelled out, but being “locked up” is how people with muscular dystrophy often feel. Their muscles don’t work fluidly, making it hard for some to smile, hug, walk and sometimes even to just breathe.
There is no cure for muscular dystrophy, but medications and therapy can help manage symptoms and slow the course of the disease, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Abnormal genes, or mutations, make protein production difficult, and that’s what contributes to healthy muscles.
Montagriff used the analogy of a balloon. For those with muscular dystrophy, the muscle is a balloon that continues to deflate.
“Your muscles don’t get any stronger,” she said. “They get weaker and weaker and weaker.”
And it’s not just arm and leg muscles, pointed out Alisha Howard, my “parole officer” and the fundraising coordinator in MDA’s Grand Junction office. The heart and lungs are muscles; often patients have breathing issues.
So the 50 to 60 of us who will report to the Steamworks greybar hotel Wednesday will be raising money not only for the camp but for patients to make doctor visits. There are clinics in Denver with experts on muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a relative of MD.
Patients also need scooters or wheelchairs, special beds and leg braces, not to mention help with maintenance on these items.
The kids who attend the Easter Seals Rocky Mountain Village camp in June get a week of normalcy, Montagriff said. The camp is fully wheelchair-accessible, and activities include art, climbing wall, fishing, horseback rides and a zipline.
“They don’t have to worry about their disease,” Montagriff said. “They don’t have to be excluded from certain activities. They get to do everything you would normally do at camp.”
Wednesday’s event at Steamworks, which is hosting MDA Lock-Up for the third time, serves two purposes, Montagriff said. There’s the money-raising aspect, and it also brings public awareness of the disease and the association.
“There are a lot of families that have (kids with) the disease that aren’t aware of what the association can do for their family,” she said. “Durango is an amazing area. Very generous. ... It’s so much fun going there.”
So, there’s some pressure on us detainees to spread the word. I’d love it if you donated through the super-duper secure link on my website page, of course, but you apparently can come to the clink and pay to keep me in.
Just know that I’ve got friends on the outside who’ll spring me. Montagriff said that’s a good thing. Sometimes loved ones will bake a file into a loaf of bread to get into the spirit of the event. Others report to the hoosegow in shackles.
“We get really into the jail theme,” she said. “We want people to have fun with this event.”
Or you could personally give me a check that I will stuff in my orange jumpsuit and bring to the event. Just don’t give me cash. I’ll forget where it came from and spend it, perhaps on a Colorado Kolsch or a Lizard Head Red.
Thanks very much, from me and from the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the kids and families it will help.
When not in the big house, John Peel writes a weekly human-interest column.