Our 2018 van winner, Jonah Jacobs, has a unique story of being knocked down, and getting up again, again and again. At age 15, Jonah broke his leg, wore a cast for 6 months, then went into liver failure. While he had faced challenges before, a string of hard medical issues back-to-back left him feeling depressed and defeated. His mom was praying he would regain his fight and willpower.
Jonah was out shopping one day with his parents and they had a random encounter with a man named Jacob. Jacob, also known as Tiny, was a big muscular man, who had fought his own battles with childhood illness. When Tiny was a kid, he was diagnosed with Leukemia and told he wouldn’t walk again. He beat cancer not once, but twice at the ages of 4 and 10. Tiny had not only overcome the illness, but he poured time and energy into weight lifting and wrestling and became a successful MMA fighter.
When Tiny met Jonah, he was at a place in life where he was feeling down too. Little did they know, the two would become fast friends after Tiny convinced Jonah to start working out with him at the Dojo, not a normal activity for a teen with muscular dystrophy. The two ended up finding out that they motivated each other in special ways and had a very strong bond.
Tiny made a deal with Jonah one day. For every step Jonah could muster, he would lift Jonah’s weight…..approximately160 lbs! Jonah pushed, fought and strained to stand up and take just one step. At the time, Tiny was in training for his first kickboxing match. He wanted Jonah to be on the team that walked him out to the ring for his first match – that became Jonah’s new goal. Week after week, Jonah eeked out one more step than he had the previous week. And by the time the match came around, Jonah was ready. After so much hard work and dedication, Jonah broke his ankle days before the fight. But Jonah had worked way too hard, and still walked Tiny out on a broken ankle…. reminding Tiny that the fight is worth it.
Today Jonah and Tiny still work out. Jonah lost the ability to walk again in 2017, but after a year of getting infusions on a drug study and encouragement from Tiny, Jonah is starting to take a couple of steps again! They still motivate each other to work hard, laugh loudly and keep each other focused on the good things. Tiny was there the day we came over to tell Jonah he was our van winner. Tiny, whom the family has made Jonah’s Godfather, beamed with joy and excitement over one more hurdle – reliable transportation – that he gets to see Jonah conquer!
You can help Jonah and other MD families conquer hurdles to get the equipment they need to achieve mobility and quality of life by giving as part of our Summer Drive Campaign by giving HERE today!