Local family helps kick off annual MDA shamrock fundraiser

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 13, 2018

 Jake Juip, 11, center, and Claire Juip, 10, third from right, help kick off the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association shamrock fundraiser March 6 at the Kroger store in Grosse Pointe City. Pictured with them are Anthony Ferdig, Kroger operations assistant manager, far left; John Rocchetto, Kroger HR assistant manager, second from left; Peter Rydell, Kroger manager, third from left: Maggie Segal, MDA health care service coordinator, second from right; and Bill Hamilton, MDA fundraising coordinator.

Jake Juip, 11, center, and Claire Juip, 10, third from right, help kick off the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association shamrock fundraiser March 6 at the Kroger store in Grosse Pointe City. Pictured with them are Anthony Ferdig, Kroger operations assistant manager, far left; John Rocchetto, Kroger HR assistant manager, second from left; Peter Rydell, Kroger manager, third from left: Maggie Segal, MDA health care service coordinator, second from right; and Bill Hamilton, MDA fundraising coordinator.

Photo provided by Maureen Juip

GROSSE POINTE CITY — When picking up groceries at the Kroger stores in Grosse Pointe City and Grosse Pointe Woods, you might want to purchase a green shamrock as well.

Throughout the month of March, Kroger stores nationwide will partner with the Muscular Dystrophy Association to raise money for a number of programs offered through the nonprofit organization. Green shamrocks made of paper are available to purchase for a $1 donation or more to hang in the stores. Customers can write their names on their shamrocks to show their support for families living with muscular dystrophy.

Muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. In muscular dystrophy, abnormal genes interfere with the production of proteins needed to form healthy muscle. There are many different kinds of muscular dystrophy. Although there is no cure, medications and therapy can help manage symptoms and slow the course of the disease.

The annual shamrock campaign received a local boost March 6 when siblings Jake and Claire Juip, along with their mom, Maureen Juip, visited the Grosse Pointe City Kroger store on Kercheval in the Village to help kick off this year’s shamrock fundraiser with Kroger staff and MDA representatives.

Jake, 11, and Claire, 10, who attend St. Paul on the Lake Catholic School in Grosse Pointe Farms, have Friedreich’s Ataxia, a progressive, degenerative neuromuscular disease that falls under the muscular dystrophy umbrella. The symptoms of FA typically begin between 5 and 15 years of age; those with FA gradually lose their ability to walk. FA also can affect a person’s heart and speech, and currently there is no cure or treatment.

Since FA falls under the umbrella of muscular dystrophy, the Juips were invited to help spread the word about the shamrock fundraiser. Money raised through the MDA Shamrocks program fund muscular dystrophy research, care and support services, including summer camp for those living with the disease.

The Juip family, which includes Maureen’s husband, Randy Juip, and three younger children — Catie, 9; Ellie, 7; and Tommy, 5 — takes the disease one day at a time. The other three children do not have FA. Currently, Maureen Juip said that Jake and Claire are “doing great” with their health and she continues to be amazed at “the way they have tackled their challenges.”

“They’re both still walking unassisted,” she said. “We’re really appreciative of Kroger’s commitment to get the word out. They make it so easy for customers to donate $1. We’re so grateful for Kroger to embrace this campaign. They’re really able to make an impact in a short amount of time to help kids not only locally, but across the nation.”

According to Rachel Hurst, corporate affairs manager for the Kroger Co., Michigan Division, in Novi, Kroger has supported the MDA campaign for more than five years. A total of 123 Kroger stores in Michigan are participating this year.

“We raise, on average, over $150,000 in four weeks due to our great associates engaging with our outstanding and very generous customers,” Hurst said in an email. “The dollars raised stay directly here in Michigan to support children with muscular dystrophy.”

Maureen Juip said every shamrock sold helps the MDA find answers. The money raised enables the MDA to help kids and adults with muscular dystrophy live longer and grow stronger.

As they fight FA, both Jake and Claire have participated in two ongoing research studies. One study was conducted from December 2016 to August 2017 at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in which the Juip children underwent a steroid treatment to determine if it would help their walking, balance and energy levels.

“The study is still ongoing,” Maureen Juip said.

Another study for the kids was conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in which a compound was tested on the FA condition.

“The thought behind that is, ‘Would it help the cardiac muscle in their hearts?’” Maureen Juip said. “That is still ongoing as well.”

According to an MDA fact sheet, the nonprofit organization provides early diagnosis, specialized care and access to clinical trials at MDA care centers in hospitals and health care facilities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

According to the fact sheet, the organization is currently funding about 150 MDA research projects around the world, and dozens of clinical trials are underway. In 2016, the FDA approved the first disease-modifying drugs to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy.

In addition to Kroger, many other companies are supporting the shamrock fundraiser, including Del Taco, Applebee’s and Burger King.

For more information on the MDA and the shamrock fundraiser, visit mda.org/shamrocks.