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Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado

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My little brother, Johnny, really has a lot going for him. If you can look beyond his electric wheelchair, leg braces, and thick-lensed glasses---

Johnny is obviously physically disabled; there is NO denying that! But he is more than wheelchairs, leg braces, crutches, or eyeglasses. He is a normal little boy who just happens to have a lot of medical problems. Besides his muscular dystrophy, Johnny also has trouble seeing and hearing, and he has a noticeable "stammer" to his speech when he talks; and he has seizures several times a day (but medication helps with that). He also has some breathing problems, and he often has to wear nasal oxygen at night, when he goes to bed. He is not that healthy, in other words.

But Johnny has other qualities about him that make him special. As his friend, Jose', pointed out, Johnny burps better than anyone in his class! :) He is so good at burping he can burp "The Star Spangled Banner"--IN TUNE, yet! Johnny is also a good little singer; he has sung with Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap, Loretta Lynn, and others. Each time he sings people cry, they are so moved. Johnny also plays piano (but it is getting harder for him to do so). Johnny also plays a killer game of Pac-Man, and if one were smart, they'd KNOW BETTER than to play against my little brother; chances are, he'll probably WHUP BUTT!! :) Johnny is also cute with a capital "C". Little girls are ALWAYS asking for him to kiss them (but Johnny ALWAYS declines; he HATES kissing!!).

Johnny is a shy child who prefers his own company--or, at the most, a few of his closest buddies. He's much happier being by himself; too many people make him uncomfortable. He also likes spending time with Ronee'; those two are extremely close.

Johnny has met a lot of celebrities; he's been the MDA Poster Child for the past year, and this entitles him to go to several MDA-related functions a year. He's always allowed to go backstage during any concert, and he's schmoozed with people like Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap, and his latest favorite, Collin Raye. He's also met people like Jerry Lewis, Ed McMahon, and Hallie Kate Eisenberg. (He has all of their autographs, by the way. He also had his picture taken with all of them.)

But there is a down side to all of this. Johnny happens to be dying. He gets to do so much, yet I feel a twinge of sadness because each year he gets a little bit weaker, and I wonder if he will be alive next year. I feel especially sad because Johnny isn't expected to live to become a teenager, and he will never grow up and be a father or a grandfather. He'll never learn to drive a car or get a meaningful job or go to college.

I wonder if he ever thinks about stuff like that. I know I do. And it about breaks my heart.

I hope a cure for muscular dystrophy will be found soon....that way, my brother would, AT LEAST, have a chance------

I WOULD like to see him get married and have children. I also would like to see him graduate from college and get his own car--probably a slugbug (he LOVES slugbugs!!). I would also like to see Johnny get a job (he'd make a GREAT meteorologist; he is absolutely CRAZY about weather!!).

But, as for now, it doesn't look like any of that is going to come true for Johnny. He has an incurable disease that, in time, will ultimately kill him. I guess this is why I have to enjoy him while he is still alive, and build memories, so I can never, ever forget him.

Johnny--he is a TRUE HERO in my eyes. And--He's THE MAN!!!!!!


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