NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dickson County native Terry Marlin said Thursday that he was humbled to receive help from Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt and others to fund research that he hopes will lead to a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Marlin and his wife Sonya founded the Fighting Duchenne Foundation (FightDMD.com) in 2010, a year after their sons Emory and Jonah were diagnosed with the genetic disease that's been diagnosed in more than 200,000 children globally.
|Terry Marlin, founder of the Fighting Duchenne Foundation, shares his appreciation for the help the organization has received in trying to find a cure for the fatal disease that affects muscles.|
"It's humbling to me because (Whisenhunt) could give us any number of reasons for why he couldn't make it, and they would all be reasons, not excuses," Terry Marlin said. "To have him come here and donate his time for us is humbling as a dad, because I've got so much invested in this foundation. When two of your boys are diagnosed, it means a lot to me. The Titans helped us last year, too, with Jake Locker coming, so this is a great event for people to come out and help our cause, but to have the head coach of the Titans in his first year and they just came in for his first week of practice, I can't thank him enough as a dad. It's truly an honor for the Titans to help us out."
Whisenhunt participated in a Q&A at the Hard Rock Cafe with longtime Houston Chronicle sports writer John McClain and Chad Withrow, a host of Midday 180 on 104.5-FM The Zone. Guests were able to learn more about the coach's youth in Augusta, Ga. and his professional career that includes winning a Super Bowl as Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator and appearing in another as head coach of Arizona. They were also able to learn his thoughts on the Titans' moves in free agency and the team's pre-draft preparations. The coach said he was pleased to help out.
"It's a horrible disease that affects young people, so anything you can do to help fund research, to help with the disease and finding the cure is important," Whisenhunt said.
The night included a separate Q&A with actor/producer/writer Anson Mount, who grew up with Terry Marlin in White Bluff, Tenn. Mount stars in AMC's Hell on Wheels *television series and was in *Non-Stop, a movie starring Liam Neeson that opened in February. Mount has come back to participate in both Q&As and is staying for a celebrity basketball game Saturday at Dickson County High School.
Terry Marlin said he appreciates the support from Mount, McClain, Withrow, the radio station, participants in the basketball game and attendees of the dinner and game because raising money for research at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt is so important to him.
"It's a struggle on our kids. They lose all muscle capacity. Our oldest is 10, and he lost the ability to walk at 8. Our youngest is still walking, but he'll lose the ability to walk within the next year, so they're the ones that drive me," he said. "They have obstacles to overcome that are much bigger than what I have to do. This is my passion now, but when you see your kids can't run and they're struggling and falling down, it just breaks my heart. I can't do enough to help them, but this affects kids all over the world, so we're not just doing stuff here in Nashville. It affects all nationalities and all ethnicities, so what we're doing here could change lives of Duchenne kids all over the world, so I won't stop at anything. It's an honor to be able to do this."
McClain, who organized the Q&As and flew from Texas to participate, said he appreciated Whisenhunt creating a window of time during a busy month that includes pre-draft visits by prospects and the beginning of the offseason workout program.
"First, I want to thank the Titans, Jake Locker last year, Ken Whisenhunt this year and (director of media relations) Robbie Bohren for helping get them involved because with DMD, there is no cure," McClain said. "I always tell people that if you have a child and find out your child has a disease of which there is no cure, wouldn't you like to know that there are people out there trying to help raise money to find a cure."
In its fourth year, the Dunk Duchenne's Celebrity Basketball Game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Those scheduled to attend include former Titans Derrick Mason, Brad Hopkins and David Stewart (click here for basketball game ticket information). "Brad Hopkins has been there every year, Derrick Mason is coming this year, so a lot of Titans or former Titans have really helped us out," Terry Marlin said. "It's not always the best quality of basketball, but it's about the kids and raising money for kids with Duchenne. It's fun. I played basketball when I was in high school, so that used to be one of my passions, and now it's fundraising for a cure for Duchenne."