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Walled Lake Central Coaching For a Cure on Friday

By: Jeff Dullack, September 24, 2014, 8:00 pm

Walled Lake – When his son Joseph was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 2008, Jeff Penrod, an assistant coach on the Walled Lake Central football coaching staff, along with his family and the rest of the Central coaches began taking a proactive approach to helping Joseph as well as other children affected by the disease.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a disease that affects one out of every 3,500 boys and is a progressive form of muscular dystrophy that affects muscle funtction. In many cases, those affected by Duchenne are restricted to a wheelchair by the age of 12.

Since the diagnosis, Penrod and the Central football program have joined and helped grow the nationwide Coach To Cure MD weekend, a partnership between the American Football Coaches Association and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy to help raise awareness as well as raise money for research to help find a cure to the disease.

The Vikings will again be partaking in the Coach to Cure MD weekend as they play host to Lakeland on Friday night.

Penrod said that since joining the Coach To Cure weekends, five years ago, the cause has grown immensely over the years, which is something that has been great for he and those apart of the Central program to witness.

“It’s been awesome,” he said. ‘To see it grow not only in our area, but nationally, I think we’re over 700 schools nationally in high school and college combined, which is amazing. It started at about 200 schools, and it’s a really good feeling that that many people are helping raise awareness.”

Central has been joined by the majority of the KLAA conference in the Coach to Cure weekend in its effort to raise awareness and funding for research.

“It’s helped that our league has embraced,” said Central head coach Bob Meyer. “We have many teams that participate in it by giving a week towards acknowledging it and you also see it in the National Football League and in the college ranks and you get to see the coaches wearing the patches.”

 Throughout the last five years, the awareness has grown throughout the Central family as both have continued to promote the week leading up to Friday night as it has turned into a community event.

“The awareness has been a huge factor and the awareness stretches beyond the football program and what goes on in the stadium,” said Meyer. “It’s become a school and community kind of event where everybody gets behind it, which is great.”

As for Joseph, Penrod said that his son understands what a big deal that the Coach To Cure event is and added that seeing people step up and to help out with the cause is something that Joseph appreciates and feels good about seeing those types of efforts.

“He knows that it’s a big deal,” he said. “He knows that we do a lot of events throughout the year that raise money for research and awareness, so he’s pretty used to it at this point and I think it makes him feel really good to see other people help out and be part of it.”

Along with the Coach To Cure event, the Penrod family continues to raise awareness and funding for research with its non-profit organization, Team Jospeh, which has raised close to 2-million dollars for research over the past six years according to Penrod, money that has been sent to doctors and hospitals across the country. Team Joseph has received the support of several celebrity figures in the area, including from Detroit Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello, who has been one of the biggest advocates for Team Joseph, Penrod said.

For those who would like to help donate, you can text the word “CURE” to the number 90999 for a donation of five dollars, a donation that Penrod said can go a long way in the efforts to fund research.

“That’s kind of the basis of what they’re trying to do,” he said. “The awareness piece of it is big to let people know that it’s out there and the need for research and for funding and to get the word out that we’re closer to getting the cures and treatments for the disease and who knows, that extra five or 10 dollars could be what puts it over the top to something really incredible.”

If you would like to learn more about Coach to Cure MD, visit or if you’d like to learn more about Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, you can visit

To learn more about Joseph Penrod and Team Joseph, you can visit