A Different Kind of Strength
Brady Larson was two and a half when his parents, Sherry Carpenter Larson and Eric Larson, received the devastating news that he has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The genetic disorder is characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. Brady, now eight, will soon be in a wheelchair full-time.
The third grader at Denham Springs Elementary doesn’t let his diagnosis slow him down. He receives physical and occupational therapy and adaptive PE at school and regularly travels to Cincinnati to be monitored by specialists.
Initially, the Larsons’ former pediatrician assured Sherry nothing was wrong despite missed milestones. During a session, a physical therapist said Brady looked like he had muscular dystrophy. “I just remember leaving so mad at her, like how dare you tell me that my son has muscular dystrophy,” Sherry says.
Eventually, Sherry found her way to David G. Hill, MD, a Baton Rouge pediatrician who ordered blood tests that confirmed the therapist’s suspicions. “Dr. Hill has been amazing. He’s saved us,” Sherry says.
Although there is no cure for Duchenne, there are clinical trials, and Brady has been part of one. To maintain his muscle strength as long as possible, Brady has been on steroids for five years.
The Larsons are very involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding research. Once a year, Brady goes to MDA Camp. “It is amazing, like it’s a honeymoon for me and my husband,” Sherry says. Brady was also an ambassador for the Baton Rouge Toast to Life Gala hosted by the MDA of Southeast Louisiana.
Even with regular medical appointments and travel to Ohio to see specialists, Brady spends plenty of time being a kid, including experiencing Disney World in 2016 with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Brady loves to play Roblox and watch scary movies, and his favorite person in the world is PopPop, Sherry’s dad.
Brady loves his dogs, Lexie and Roux, and would love to have a service dog to help with tasks he can’t manage. A family friend nominated Brady for Lucky Dog, the CBS show matching specially trained dogs with deserving owners. “Brady wants to be a vet when he grows up, which I pray he’s still here to do that,” Sherry says.
Brady longs to be a big brother. Sherry has found out she is a carrier, meaning a 50-50 chance that another child would also have Duchenne. “So that’s why we decided not to have another kid, but I want to adopt another kid so bad,” Sherry says.
The Larsons attend First United Methodist Church, and Brady is involved with Spark Kids there. Brady is also on a soccer team for kids with disabilities in Walker. As the only player with a physical disability, Brady gets to be goalie and blow the whistle.
“He’s one of the strongest kids I know,” Sherry says. “He doesn’t let things bother him. He’s been through a lot as a child of eight years old. He inspires me so much.” ■