Meet Reagan Imhoff, National Goodwill Ambassador for MDA

Today, we were pleased to host 9-year-old Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) National Goodwill Ambassador Reagan Imhoff and her parents, Jenny and Joe, here at Miller Park.

The Imhoff family resides in New Berlin where Reagan is a charming, happy and outgoing fourth-grader who enjoys art, social studies and recess.

In her free time, she told me she enjoys drawing, dancing and playing with her dolls-especially her American Girl collection.

Reagan works on a special drawing for Jonathan Lucroy.

Reagan works on a special drawing for Jonathan Lucroy.

She is also a long-time Brewers fan (“Ever since I was six!” she told me, proudly).

However, one thing that sets Reagan apart from her classmates is that she has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA, type 2), a genetic disease affecting the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement. Because of this progressive neuromuscular disease which is most commonly diagnosed in infancy, Reagan has never been able to crawl or walk. In addition  SMA has led to difficulty eating enough food by mouth to maintain her weight and grow, so Reagan is mainly fed through a g-j tube. Her respiratory muscles are also very weak, which makes coughing and taking deep breaths while sleeping difficulty, leading to an increased tendency for pneumonia and other problems. Scoliosis also presented complications early on for Reagan which resulted in the need for spinal surgery when she was just 4. Leg and hip pain have also been an increasing problem for her.

Despite all of these challenges, Reagan remains positive and upbeat, choosing to tell her personal story as a National Goodwill Ambassador for MDA. In this capacity, Reagan is working to help raise awareness and understanding of muscle disease and inspire support of the organization.

Beginning in 1952, when public awareness and understanding of muscle disease were almost non-existent, MDA put a human face on its mission by calling upon young people affected by these diseases to serve as National Goodwill Ambassadors. To date, the program has had 39 such ambassadors, boys and girls affected by a variety of neuromuscular disorders, who have traveled the nation to meet with sponsors, supporters and luminaries, playing an essential role in motivating millions to help MDA through donations or volunteer action.

Reagan had served as a Wisconsin Ambassador for three years before being tapped for the National spotlight. Reagan’s mom, Jenny, told me that they’ve been all over the county this year, including Arizona, Nashville, Las Vegas, Chicago, Daytona, San Antonio, Houston, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Of her travels, Reagan tells me that Nashville is her favorite place, “because it was really fun and the people are really nice,” she said.

But today, Reagan got an experience that ranks right up at the top–she got to meet her favorite player, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, along with Brewers pitchers Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse and bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel, during BP.

Reagan also threw out the first pitch before tonight’s Brewers vs. Cardinals game:

Reagan 1

 

It was a pleasure to meet Reagan and her family; they are lovely people and I can see why this charismatic youngster was chosen to be an ambassador at the national level.

You can meet Reagan and mingle with current and former professional athletes at the annual MDA Muscle Team Gala on Thursday, November 13 at SURG Restaurant Group’s new event space on Milwaukee Street.  For more information call 262-432-7992 or visit www.mdamuscleteamwisconsin.com.

 

-Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

School

 

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