Chapel Talk: Rollin' Along

Senior David Loughran shares his very personal struggle with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and has an important message or two for us all.

Each of us has things that are unique about us. What you probably notice right away is this chair I am stuck in. At the age of six, I was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. DMD is a genetic
disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. The muscles deteriorate because of a lack of dystrophin proteins, which causes the body’s muscles to break down easily. One of my signature stories is of my first and LAST bicycle ride. It was about a year before my diagnosis when my parents decided it was time for me to learn how to ride a bike. It did not go well. I couldn’t gather enough speed in order to keep the bike upright. My mom was screaming “pedal faster, pedal faster!” Trust me when I tell you that there was no pedaling any faster. Let’s just say that after that experience I do not like bikes. Sorry Mr. Clements!

David's distaste for bikes didn't keep him from the Sophomore bike trip!

We have all faced some sort of adversity in our lives. Though it’s tough, you have to keep a positive outlook and not get too caught up with your own short-comings. Every day is a struggle for me. When I wake up in the morning, I feel depressed and I worry about the day ahead. I can’t get out of bed on my own, so my mother or father has to help me shower, use the bathroom, and get dressed. Since I can’t stand, I have to slide into clothes and then into my chair. Next I have to plan out my day so that I get help at the right time from my mother.

And I need help with a lot of things: using the bathroom, getting my books, putting away my laptop, and getting my coat on and off. The hardest thing about this disease is the things that it has taken away from me: playing sports, riding roller coasters, horsing around with friends, and I will never drive a car! Because my muscles are getting weaker, it is now harder to hold my head up and raise my hand in class.

Of course, it’s easy to complain and it’s in our nature to do so. But we all need to find a reason to get out of bed! I put my energy into classes, clubs, and passions. I haven’t let my inability to play sports stop me from participating. I love announcing at the football and basketball games. It makes me feel like I am part of the team. I also enjoy writing articles about sports, both about Peddie teams in the Peddie News and professional sports in my own sports blog—The Sports Report—check it out on Facebook! No matter what card you are dealt, with a positive attitude, you can overcome any obstacle.

Announcing at this fall's football game against Lawrenceville
Next, be cognizant of others. Be more aware of other people and their limitations—especially people in wheelchairs! I encounter many obstacles in my wheelchair because people just don’t pay attention to how their actions impact others. Like backpacks! I can’t tell you how many backpacks have gotten stuck in my wheels in the student center hallway when I am trying to get to lunch. Yes, the chicken nuggets may smell really good, but remember, if you don’t move your backpack out of the way, you may be putting it at risk. 

Elevators! Too many people get on the elevators who don’t belong there. I know that having to go to third floor Annenberg can be a real kill-joy, but remember, the elevator is my only option to get to class. On the other hand, one of my biggest obstacles is opening doors, and Peddie passes with flying colors on that point. Generally, when people see me coming into a building, they make sure to hold the door open. 

The point here is to be aware of those around you. For me, my physical needs are obvious, but be just as sensitive to the emotional needs of other members of our community. It will make Peddie an even better place. 

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it! At the beginning of my freshman year at Peddie, I was really scared to ask people for help because I was worried about how they would respond. I didn’t want to be a bother to others. But over the course of my four years here, I’ve learned that it is okay to ask for help. For example, I can’t reach my backpack because it is attached to the back of my chair. Whenever I ask students to get my laptop out for me, they are eager to help. For all of you out there who have helped me get my laptop out, you are the real MVP! 

It is also important to appreciate and acknowledge the help you are given. When I was younger, I would always get angry at my parents for helping me. But because of my growing dependence on my parents, I have learned to accept the help and I try to make it a pleasant experience. My attitude adjustment has really opened my eyes to how much my parents do for me. Without them, I’d probably
still be in bed right now.

In our reading today—Rudyard Kipling says something quite interesting which I try to consider in my life, and perhaps you can too. That is to “meet…triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters
just the same.” I encourage you to approach your struggles with courage, be sensitive to the needs of others, be comfortable asking for help, and be sure to acknowledge the help you are given. Thank you
for rolling along with me! ALA VIVA!


  1. You are OUR inspiration and MVP David!


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