When the Jefferson City Jays ran onto the field Friday evening, one of their youngest fans was right alongside them.
T.J. Clime is an avid football fan and follows the Jays and the Missouri Tigers particularly closely. He enjoys anything having to do with the Army and plays military-themed video games. The 3rd-grader also has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. According to the National Institutes of Health, it affects 1 in every 3,600 boys. There is no cure for DMD, and people who have it usually die by age 25. The most common treatments include physical therapy and steroids.
Friday's game was the school's first as part of the Coach to Cure MD campaign. T.J.'s mother, Sara, said when she approached the school's boosters about setting up a table at one of the games, the response was overwhelming.
"They have completely taken everything to a whole new level," she said.
On the field, T.J. shook hands and posed for photographs with members of the Jays football team and the team's mascot. He also met another T.J., former Mizzou Tiger and current New England Patriot T.J. Moe. The younger T.J. said Moe told him to keep fighting. T.J. also received a commander's coin from the Missouri Army National Guard.
Sara said right now, the focus is to bring attention to the disease.
"The only thing we have right now is hope," she said. "Just to raise awareness of what he has and what we can do to try to find a cure, as a mother, there's just nothing more you can ask for."
The Jays will continue their part of the Coach to Cure MD campaign at all home football games this fall. If you would like to support the campaign, you can make a $5 donation by texting the word "CURE" to 90999.