11-Year-Old California Boy Is Climbing the World's Tallest Mountains for Children with Muscular Dystrophy
By Tiare Dunlap, July 29, 2015
Eleven-year-old Tyler Armstrong of Yorba Linda, California, is climbing the highest peaks on all seven continents to raise money to find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed in childhood.
After becoming the youngest person in the world to climb California's Mount Whitney in a single day, Armstrong, then 7, met Debra and Paul Miller and their son, Hawken, who has Duchenne.
The genetic disorder causes progressive muscle degeneration and weakness and primarily affects boys, with symptoms appearing between ages 3 and 5, according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Many children with Duchenne begin using wheelchairs between ages 7 and 12. The disorder also affects the heart and lungs, ultimately proving fatal.
“It was really hard to hear about Duchenne because [the boys affected] are like me – they're the same age as me, but they have really hard problems, especially walking,” Armstrong tells PEOPLE. “Boys my age love playing sports and running around, so it's really hard for them. When they work out and walk around, their muscles get smaller and smaller.”
After meeting Hawken and learning about the approximately 300,000 other boys around the world who suffer from the incurable disorder, he knew he had to do something…