Crestview couple raises money for son's fatal disease
Wendy Victora/Florida Freedom Newspapers When Brenda and Dennis Reckart plan a family vacation, they ask their 8-year-old son, Cody, for input. How does he want to travel? By car? Plane? Train? What does he want to see and do?
And whatever Cody wants, they make it happen.
They know that with every passing year, Cody will be able to do less. In a decade, he'll be nearing the end of his life.
The Tim McGraw song, "Live Like You Were Dying," has become their family motto, his mom says.
Because Cody is dying.
"We want him to enjoy everything he can," his dad said.
At age 7, the little boy with spiky blond hair and round glasses was diagnosed with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy, a lethal childhood illness that affects primarily boys.
The genetic disorder weakens the muscles, including the heart and lungs. Few live beyond their early 20s.
The diagnosis was a shock to the Reckarts, who had noticed that their only child walked on his toes, but figured he'd outgrow it.
A teacher at his school expressed concern last year and suggested they have him evaluated.
Since then, Cody has started physical therapy to help keep his muscles stretched and has begun wearing leg braces at night. There is no cure, but the short-term goal is to keep him walking as long as possible.
His folks talk about Cody's illness in a matter-of-fact way while their little boy sits between them, alternating between watching cartoons and reading.
He also loves video games, swimming and, of course, vacations. They've been white water rafting and hiking, and have visited Disney World often.
His parents recently put a pool in their backyard so Cody can swim whenever he wants.
His next dream is to swim with the dolphins in Orlando.
"That boy gets our last nickel in our pockets if he wants it or needs it," Dennis said.
The Reckarts cope with their son's illness by taking it a day at a time, they said.
"We talk about it until it starts to get us down," said Dennis, who is a stay-at-home dad. Brenda works at Hurlburt Field.
"Then we cut it off, turn away and start to do something else for a while."
They're hoping for a cure and support a group called Parent Project, which focuses on research about the disease and finding a cure.
Four of their friends - all airmen at Hurlburt - will run in the Disney World Marathon as members of "Cody's Team" to raise money for Parent Project. Brenda and another friend will also register for the marathon, although they will run it in "spirit" only.
But first, the Reckarts must collect $1,200 in registration fees for each of the six participants. All the money will go to Parent Project for research.
A Golf Classic for Muscular Dystrophy will be held Oct. 18 at Fort Walton Beach Golf Club to raise money for the marathon fees.
The cost for the four-person scramble is $45 per person and includes lunch.
To preregister, call Brenda at 884-7628 or e-mail her at Brenda.firstname.lastname@example.org.