HELMETTA, NJ - Former Rutgers University assistant football coach and Helmetta resident, Trevor Powers had worn the Coach to Cure MD patch on his shirt many times on the sidelines over the years. Ironically, the patch hit too close to home a year ago when his young son, Trent was diagnosed with the disease the patch aims to promote awareness about.
Coach to Cure MD is a partnership between the American Football Coaches Association and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, which is the largest national charity that devotes its efforts to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a recessive type of muscular dystrophy. It affects approximately one in 3,600 males, causing muscular degeneration and premature death. Typically, the disease affects boys though research has shown girls to be carriers and that can sometimes exhibit mild symptoms.
Currently, there is not a known cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Today, the treatment involves controlling the symptoms that rob sufferers of their quality of life. Treatment usually revolves around certain steroids that attempt to slow the inevitable decline in muscle strength. Treatment typically begins at the time of the diagnosis or when muscles strength begins to weaken.
The AFCA was drawn to PPMD largely due to the fact that the disease impacts males by taking away their muscle strength. Football is a sport that relies primary on muscle strength.
On Saturday, September 24, Powers returned to the Rutgers gridiron with his wife Kim and Trent. As a part of Coach to Cure MD, Trent served as an honorary captain. The 21-month old also got to take part in the ceremonial coin toss with the other captains. Prior to the game the Powers family hosted a huge Coach to Cure MD tailgate to help promote the cause.
This is the ninth year Coach to Cure MD has hit college football fields around the nation to raise awareness about Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Last year, they raised 1.2 million dollars for the cause.
“They do pretty well with their campaign,” Kim Powers explained in a recent interview in the family’s Helmetta home. “Hundreds of universities and some high schools around the country participate. There are thousands of coaches involved. It’s a very simple campaign. Basically, the coaches wear a patch on their sleeves during games.”
The hope is fans watching the highly popular and widely viewed college football games across the nation each week will notice the patch on the coaches’ clothing and become curious, googling its message.
“It’s just crazy the timing of all of this,” Powers continued. “Trevor was a college football coach. He’s worn the patch (Coach to Cure MD) for eight years. Over the summer last year while we were waiting for the diagnosis, I joined some of these parent groups (online) and I recognized the patch. Trent was diagnosed the week of Coach to Cure last year. Four days after Trent was diagnosed, Trevor had to wear the patch and go out on the field.”
At that time, Power’s husband was coaching at Princeton University. He has since left that position this past June due to their son’s diagnosis.
After learning Trent's diagnosis, the couple who met while Powers was coaching at Rutgers, knew exactly where to direct their energies.
“We were able to rally pretty quickly,” Powers said. “We knew this (Coach to Cure MD) was the perfect thing for us to get involved in because of our connection to college football and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. We quickly reached out to PPMD and asked if we could assist them in any way. This year we personally called out every coach we know with personal emails and messages to ask them to get involved. We’re doing little things to help make it bigger.”
This past week the family also participated in a Dine to Donate in Medford Lake that a family friend helped to arrange at an area restaurant. Powers’ family and friends continue to provide a strong base of support for the young couple and their son. They maintain a Facebook page Powers Promise where they share their story and provide updates on Trent’s condition.
This week a new drug in the fight against Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Etepliresen, received approval from the FDA. While it won’t specifically help Trent, it does give families like the Powers that struggle daily with the debilitating effects of Duchenne muscular dystrophy some much-needed hope for the future.
To help raise awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and assist in the research necessary to someday find a cure, residents can text the word “CURE” to 90999. Five dollars will be donated to Coach to Cure MD.