STEPHENVILLE (June 10, 2018)– When Royal Purcell was 6 years old, he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and told he would not be able to play sports. With determination and the support of his mom, Royal, now 12, is a part of the Stephenville Parks and Recreation Youth Baseball League, where he plays with a team called the Orioles.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a progressive muscle regeneration disease that causes weakness in the body. People with Duchenne muscular dystrophy can have difficulty doing tasks such as opening containers, using forks, standing up, walking and running. Purcell said the doctors now call Royal a “miracle” because he’s still able to walk.
“For him to be walking is a big deal because about three years ago they said start getting ready for him to be 100 percent in a wheel chair,” Royal’s mother Brandi Purcell said.
Purcell admits that, when she found out her son was diagnosed, it was very hard for the first two years. After being told that Royal would not be able to be very active, their family decided to take it one day at a time.
“He’s my only son, and we come from a family who plays sports,” Purcell said. “I had this total idea of how I thought my son was going to be, with football and all these things. We took it more like we’ll decide that, and God will decide that, and we’ll just live our life.”
Royal goes to a doctor in Dallas weekly to have infusions of an experimental drug that could help stop the progression of his muscles weakening. The hope is that this drug will help strengthen Royal’s muscles.
“I think he has gotten stronger,” Ms. Purcell said. “He can open things…He’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, Mom, I can open this bottle now!’”
When Royal told his mom that he wanted to play baseball, she was unsure, but eventually said yes. Royal is unable to hit a fastball, but that does not stop him. When it is Royal’s turn to bat, his teammates get a tee ready to go.
“[Being on the team is] fun and I feel like everybody else,” Royal said. “Some of my friends are on the team and I like batting.”
Royal’s determination and strength has pushed him to keep going when life gets difficult.
“We can’t live for tomorrow because we don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring,” Purcell said. “We’re walking today, we’re doing these things today and just never give up.”