Family and friends of Alan Bodtmann, Jr. gathered on Friday at the Casano Community Center to celebrate Alan being appointed as the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) New Jersey Goodwill Ambassador for 2011. Melissa White, the MDA Health Care Services Coordinator, served as hostess to the event. Sierra Acevedo, the 2009-2010 Goodwill Ambassador, was also present to formally hand the title over to Alan.
Ten year old Alan and his family became involved with DMA a few months after being diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) in 2005. DMD, which is one of the 43 muscular diseases that are covered by MDA’s research and care programs, affects 1 in 4,000 males born each year. In Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, boys begin to show signs of muscle weakness as early as age three and the disease gradually weakens the muscles in the arm, legs and throat. By the early teens or even earlier, heart and respiratory muscles may also be affected. In 1986, through research funded by the MDA, it was discovered that Duchenne was caused by the absence of a protein that keeps muscles intact called dystrophin.
Mayor Joseph Accardi present Alan with a plaque from MDA. Council representatives Michael Yakubov and Tanya Torres were in attendance along with Mary Christensen, Alan’s principal, as well as teachers from his school.
As ambassador, Alan will make public appearances throughout the state and community to encourage volunteers in the associations’ year-round educational and fundraising campaigns. He will also take part in a number of special events throughout New Jersey. In the past, Alan has appeared on the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon and has been interviewed by various news stations in the NJ-NY area.