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Louie’s grandfather walks to defeat Duchenne

The story of why Louie Facca’s grandfather Bob is walking 500 kilometres begins in 1995, with the father-son team of Jesse and John Davidson. When the Davidson family learned young Jesse was afflicted with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive disease that causes the progressive loss of motor function and a dramatically shortened lifespan, they decided to search for a cure. It was this decision that prompted John to push his son, in his wheelchair, across Ontario to raise money for DMD research. John was age 49, wheeling his 15 year old son 3,339 kilometres, raising $1.5 million. Three year later, John travelled for 286 days across Canada alone, 8,300 kilometres, raising another $2 million, and the Jesse’s Journey Foundation was born.
Louie Facca’s family became acquainted with the disease when Louie was diagnosed at the age of two. He’s four now, and his family has been in contact with John Davidson and the foundation. As Louie underwent physiotherapy, speech therapy and took swimming exercise to slow down the disease, his grandfather Bob Facca began organizing his own fundraiser. He suggested doing a 500 kilometre walk from Owen Sound to London throughout the month of May. The foundation supported the idea. No grandfather had every done a fundraising walk for the foundation before. And so fundraising started on March 16 of this year at a London Knights hockey game.

On Sunday, May 6, Bob left Owen Sound on his journey, with family and friends at his side. From Owen Sound he went to Amberley, Lucknow, Wingham, Blyth, Clinton, Stratford, Woodstock, Tillsonburg, St. Thomas, West Huron and Strathroy, then arriving back in London. On Saturday, May 12, six days into his walk, Bob and his companions arrived in Wingham. They gathered at the Foodland grocery store, where a barbecue, put on by the store, greeted them. Foodland donated all the food and drinks used at the barbecue, and all money raised went directly to Bob’s walk.

“It’s not about one person walking,” Bob commented outside of Foodland. “I’m just one spoke in the wheel. The more spokes, the stronger the wheel.” He had travelled 110 kilometres by the time he arrived in Wingham, and had raised over $100,000. One hundred per cent of money raised goes directly to research. According to his wife, Wendy Facca, in many towns they couldn’t keep up with the money being handed to them. The husband and wife pair worked well together. As Wendy put it, “Grandpa does the walking. Grandma does the talking.” There were still many days ahead of them, and another 390 kilometres to cover. Their ultimate goal is a cure. The walk ends May 30.

Young Louie’s DN A is off track, and his muscles aren’t connected properly, as described by Bob and Wendy. He doesn’t yet fully understand his situation, but that will come in time. People diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy don’t typically live beyond their 20th birthday. Jesse Davidson passed away Nov. 6, 2009 at the age of 29. If you’re interested in donating to ‘Louie’s Grandpa Walks to Defeat Duchenne’, or want to learn more about the Jesse’s Journey Foundation, visit www.jessesjourney.com.