'Strokes' of hope cause deeper than the pool for Fenton grandmother

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FLINT (WJRT) (05/13/19) -- Raising awareness for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, one stroke at a time. Karen Stahler's grandson Noah has been living with the rare disease for a number of years.

And now she's out to make a difference not just for him, but the many others who are also living with the diagnosis.

Three days a week -- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you'll find Karen Stahler at the Flint YMCA swimming laps. But she's not just swimming for her own health, she's doing it to raise awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, something her Grandson Noah has.

"Every stroke that I did was a hopestroke," Stahler said.

A stroke of hope that one day there will be a cure for the progressive muscular weakness syndrome, that primarily effects boys.

"Duchenne is what makes a muscle. And without it, your muscles fall a part eventually in a wheelchair," she said.

The average life expectancy for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is 25 years old.

Karen's Grandson, Noah, who is 21 is currently wheelchair bound and needs a lot of care, to do even the simplest of things.

"He has use of just his hands. He has to be fed, bathed, taken everywhere, but he's got his chair, he goes everywhere, he smiles, he's hopeful, he thinks there will be a cure," she said.

Duchenne has not stopped Noah from living his best life. He just finished up his second year at Tidewater Community College with hopes of one day becoming a meteorologist.

"He makes us all very happy. We're all very very proud of him."

But it's Noah's can-do attitude that inspires Karen to swim laps at the Y, and those laps aren't just for Noah, they're for the hundreds of others who are living with Duchenne.

"Today's swim will be for number 364, so I've done 364 miles at this point."

And she has no plans to stop.

"I can't cure it. I don't have the skills.I don't have the money to put into research, but I can at least say I swam today a mile for somebody and I'll put it on Facebook and say please spread the word."

Karen has a website she created to raise awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

You can view that website by clicking on the 'related links' section on the right side or bottom of this page.