As junior nursing majors who recently transferred to Neumann University, Rhiannon Downey and Angela Jimenez already had much in common when they first met last September. They were both eager to get involved at Neumann and shared a deep passion for helping others.
So, when Downey began looking for another student to help her start a Muscle Movement Foundation (MMF) chapter at Neumann University, she knew just where to turn.
The Muscle Movement Foundation works to combat the detrimental effects of muscular dystrophy, ALS, and other forms of muscle-related diseases, by way of physical, financial, and emotional accommodations. The foundation, which is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, has chapters across the country.
MMF was founded by Rob DeMasi, who battled life-threatening complications and side effects for four years through misdiagnoses. At 17 years old, he endured 20 days in the hospital, virtually paralyzed from head-to-toe. After fighting for four years, he finally received a proper diagnosis of myasthenia gravis (MG), an autoimmune disease that causes muscle weakness, paralysis, and fatigue.
Downey’s interest in MMF is very personal. Like DeMasi, she also has myasthenia gravis and was diagnosed with the disease when she was 13 years old. Today, she is in remission.
“The foundation highlights ‘Muscle Champions’ who are living and refusing to lose to muscle disease. I am a Muscle Champion,” Downey said. “I went undiagnosed for a year. It was a bittersweet moment when I was finally diagnosed. With medicine and surgery, I was able to be in the sports I loved again.”
Downey decided it was time to give back to MMF and setting up a club on campus would be a good starting point. Downey and Jimenez’s vision for the club is to include students from all majors, not only nursing.
“We’re trying to get the word out so students in other majors know about us. We want students from all majors like PT (physical therapy), marketing, education and communications,” Downey explained.
“Our primary focus will be fundraising and spreading awareness about muscle disease. We plan on having bake sales, t-shirt sales and we will adopt a family,” Downey said.
The MMF club’s first meeting will take place in late September.