Need some seasonal uplift? Read the UA News Service’s account of Raymond Walter of Mountain Home, who’ll graduate in May, at age 18, with a triple major in economics, physics and math. He’s won competitive awards for his continuing graduate education and hopes to complete a doctorate by 2017. He attends class, by the way, in a motorized wheelchair.
Raymond has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy in which the muscles weaken and waste away. The disease, the most common childhood form of muscular dystrophy, affects one out of every 3,600 male infants and most must use a wheelchair by age 12. Breathing difficulties and heart disease usually start by age 20.
“I don’t anticipate living as long as usual,” Raymond said. “In some respects, there is a lot of pressure to get as much done as I can. I don’t waste time. I skipped three years of grade school and to some extent I’ve continued my acceleration since I reached the university level. I finished my undergraduate economics course work in my freshman year. So as a sophomore I began to take graduate courses.”
His caregiver at college is his father Hal.
“This wasn’t thrust upon us upon Ray’s graduation from high school,” Hal said. “Several years prior to that, we were well aware of what Duchenne muscular dystrophy meant. We rearranged our lives so I would be available to care for him. We just adapted.”