The Relationships That Shape Us

by DJ Kimble

DJ Kimble is 41 years old with Duchenne. He is the PAAC Secretary for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, one of the hosts of The Duchenne Life, a contributing writer for our blog, and has an incredible sense of humor. You can contact DJ at

My Hero, My Pop

A Hero can be described as many things. For most of us with Duchenne, though, it’s someone to look up to and to guide us in life through the challenges that we face each and every day.

A Hero can be anyone and can play many different roles in your life from your parents, grandparents, your siblings, your friends or even someone you have read about from history.

All that it requires to be a Hero is that they provide you with what you need to find your way in life, whether it’s just for a moment in your life or the entirety of your life, a Hero makes your path through life a little easier.

For me, my Hero is my Pop (grandad) who I have looked up to for my entire life and is the person that has shaped me into the man that I am today.

The Things He Taught Me

My Pop is a great man, who loved his family more than anything else in this world. He taught me everything I know about what life truly means.

He taught me to love the Lord, to love your family, to help everyone who needs a hand – especially your family and friends, to be kind, to treat others like you would want to be treated, to never give up – no matter the circumstances you face – and that your word means something.

Above all else, though, he taught me to always laugh and to never take life too seriously.

I looked up to my Pop throughout my entire life because he, too, had a disability and I truly believe we had a special bond because of that connection to each other.

The strength and courage that I have had living with Duchenne throughout my life was truly shaped by him as I watched him continue doing the things he loved doing despite his disability.

Sure it’s great for someone to tell you to never give up, but seeing the man you look up to do exactly that is so much more inspiring than words alone.

His Terrible Accident

My Pop had a terrible accident several years before I was born. A tree had fallen on him while clearing some land at work. The injuries he sustained were severe. But thanks to some great doctors putting him back together and his resilience to recover from them, he was able to continue doing the things that he enjoyed doing.

Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve heard the stories of his accident, about how seriously he was hurt and the strength and courage that he had to overcome all those challenges. Those stories taught me that if you believe in yourself and you have the support from your family that you need, then everything is absolutely possible.

My Pop was always there for me through all the great moments of my life. From coming to West Virginia 4 hours away to have lunch with us at school during Grandparent’s Day, to attending my birthday parties and watching me graduate from high school, he was always there – no matter what.

My Pop was also always there for me through every one of my challenging moments as well. From when I broke my legs, to my spinal fusions, my numerous bouts with pneumonia, (especially the time when everything changed during one of those bouts of pneumonia when I had to get a tracheostomy and require the use of a ventilator to breathe), he was just always there – no matter what.

Having my Pop there, along with the support from my family, reassured me that anything was possible and that I would still be ok.

My Terrible Accident

I would like to share one of my most memorable moments of my Pop being there for me.

On Easter morning, when I was 10 years old, I fell out of my wheelchair and broke both legs. I ended up in a full body cast and we weren’t sure where I would sleep because they would have never got me to my room.

So my mom called my Pop to see if he still had the hospital bed from his accident, which he did. He went out to the barn, dug the bed and mattress out, cleaned them and threw it in the truck. Then he drove 4 hours to our home and had it set up in the living room just as I was returning home.

That is the moment that I knew there was no limit to how far he would go just to be there for me. Knowing that the man I looked up to would go to the ends of the world to help me is the best feeling that I, as a person with Duchenne, could ever feel.

At that moment, I realized that I would never be alone on this journey.

The Patriarch, the Glue, the Protector

My Pop was truly a very special person, not only to me, but to my entire family. To be honest I’m not really sure where he and my Memaw found enough time in the day to always be there for us, but they found a way. No matter what.

My Pop left this world a little over two years ago. That was a very hard moment not only for me, but for my entire family. He was the patriarch of our family, the glue that kept everyone together, and the protector that kept us safe from whatever life threw at us.

I never had a chance to really tell him how much that I loved and admired him. What does give me solace, though, is that in my heart I know he knew just how much he meant to me and I also know just how much I meant to him, too.

He may no longer be here with me in person but I still feel his spirit providing me with the strength and courage I need to continue thriving on my journey with Duchenne, no matter the challenges I face.

I may never fully be the man that he was, but I will always continue to live life to the fullest just like he did – by loving life, loving my family, loving my friends, being kind to others, and being myself.

Above all, I will continue to always laugh and not take life too seriously. That, I believe, is truly the key to life. I know that my Pop had that key to open the door of life for everyone in my family.

Thank You

Thanks everyone for taking a moment to meet my Hero, my Pop!

If anyone who reads this has their Hero nearby, please let them know how much they truly mean to you and hold them a little tighter everyday. Because they hold the key to life’s door!!

Thanks Family, Friends and Duchenne for once again allowing me a place to continue to share my journey with Duchenne. It means the world to me.


2 Replies to “The Relationships That Shape Us”

  1. Thank you for sharing your Pop with us. The love you share shines through in your words.

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