A Labor Day Story


Throughout the month of September we’ll be sharing a “Milestone Monday” story about a person with Muscular Dystrophy who is pushing past the obstacles and achieving their dreams. Today, we’re sharing about Thomas Miller.

You may be excited about having the day off for Labor Day, but if you’ve never had a paying job, getting to go to work is a dream. In the good ole’ United States of America, just about anyone can go to school, work hard, and pursue their dreams. But having a disability that impacts your mobility can often cause those dreams to fade…..unless you are Thomas Miller.

Thomas is one of 2 children who were adopted by his Aunt and Uncle when he was just an infant because his mother was addicted to drugs. He was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) when he was just 1 year old. He grew up with his sister and 2 cousins that became his sisters when he was adopted.

Thomas comes from a hard-working family, so as he grew up with DMD, he didn’t let that be an excuse. He kept going to school, working hard, and getting out to enjoy anything he had the opportunity to do.

His state appointed “Teacher of Record” worked with him from 3rd grade until he graduated high school to ensure he had what he needed to navigate school, learn and identify equipment that helped him be successful in his academics. She said he is quiet, very respectful and resilient. She admired how he is grateful for each day, and has been dreaming for years of becoming independent. She loves his wit, and humor, sharing that, despite all the challenges and difficulties he faced, he always found a way to joke about it.

Thomas is the first male in his family to graduate high school. Despite the challenges he had to face, he enjoyed learning,especially creative writing.

He said he was proud to be the first male in his family to graduate High School. He thinks anyone with a disability should finish High School because it gives you the opportunity to get out of the house, be social and learn. Thomas said “It gives you a sense of accomplish that is pretty tremendous!”

But he isn’t stopping there. His Uncle Al, whom he lovingly calls Pops, has been talking to him for years about working or going on to college when he’s done with school. He tried attending college last fall, but because they didn’t have reliable transportation he had to drop.

Again, they didn’t give up and they applied for the MDFF Van-A-Year program. Last year they did not get selected, so they applied again this year. Again, perseverance and determination paid off. On September 10th, MDFF will be presenting Thomas and his family a wheelchair accessible van that will enable him to go to college!

He’s not sure yet what he will major in, but he does like helping people. Graduating High School was a tremendous accomplishment for Thomas, and we can’t wait to see him go on to be a college graduate and pursue dreams of working. Before he knows it, he’ll be appreciating the day off on Labor Day too!