Jack Van Houten, 16, Hartland, Mich.

Family Health
on April 12, 2012

Sixteen-year-old Jack Van Houten has gone to great lengths in order to help out a loved one—1,500 miles, to be exact. In 2011 and again in 2012, Jack Van Houten participated in the Jett Ride, a cross-country cycle tour to raise funds and awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a devastating muscle disease in children causing progressive muscle loss and weakness.

The cause hits close to home for Jack, whose younger brother, Kyle, 13, is affected by the muscular disease, which affects 1 in 3,500 male births worldwide.

“When I heard about the Jett Ride, I was immediately interested in learning more about it,” Jack says. “The cause related to our family so well.”

As part of his fundraising efforts, Jack singlehandedly raised $10,000 to benefit the Jett Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a treatment and cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He raised the money by soliciting donations from friends, family and business sponsors.

Jack was overwhelmed by the tremendous support he received from the community. “I had a pool party over the summer and invited all of my friends,” Jack says. “I asked everybody to bring a $25 donation. Everyone was willing to help out.”

Joining a group of fellow Jett Riders, Jack completed the arduous 1,500-mile trek, which began July 5th in Minneapolis, Minn., and ended August 5th in Point Pleasant, N.J. Averaging 65 to 80 miles a day, the cyclists crossed eight states in order to raise awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Jack, who is an avid cross country and track runner, says that he was in good enough shape to tackle the physically demanding journey. “But it took me awhile to get used to sitting on a bicycle seat for hours a day,” he admits.

This July, Jack will be participating in the 2013 Jett Ride as a leader-in-training, meaning he will be responsible for managing the Jett Foundation’s blog, taking event photos and overseeing other organizational tasks. Jack says his favorite part about participating in the Jett Ride is having the opportunity to meet with other families whose lives have been touched by Duchenne muscular dystrophy in some way.

“We met with over 40 families who are dealing with DMD,” says Jack. “I got to spend time with each and every one of the kids. It’s nice to see how other families are dealing with the disease.”

Found in: Family Health