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Yale Field Hockey "Get a Grip" Myotonic Dystrophy Campaign


Throughout the 2012 season, the Yale field hockey team is raising awareness and funds for the battle against myotonic dystrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy. Sophomore goalkeeper Ona McConnell has been diagnosed with this disease. Yale's campaign is known as "Get a Grip". In 2010 the Bulldogs raised more than $50,000 for the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation, and last year they raised more than $40,000.

Ona McConnell The 2012 campaign kicks off with the annual "Get a Grip" game at Johnson Field, Sunday Sept. 2 vs. Quinnipiac at 1 p.m.


About Yale Field Hockey's "Get a Grip" Campaign

The goals of the Yale field hockey team's "Get a Grip" campaign for the 2012 season are:

  • Raise awareness
  • Fundraise for research
  • Support Ona and others with this rare disease

Yale will take donations for the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation at the annual "Get a Grip" game (Sunday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. vs. Quinnipiac), and all who donate will receive a Myotonic Dystrophy wristband. "Get a Grip" T-shirts will be on sale as part of the fundraiser. The Bulldogs will wear specially designed jerseys during the game.

Throughout the season, the team will accept pledges for a "Goal-a-thon" in which donations are based on the number of goals Yale scores.


About Myotonic Dystrophy (or DM, for dystrophia myotonica)

Myotonic dystrophy, the most common of the nine forms of muscular dystrophy, is a rare genetic disorder that can cause problems with many systems in the body. This inherited disorder can appear at any age and can manifest itself differently in each individual. The various forms of myotonic dystrophy are caused by changes at different sites in the DNA of an individual (i.e. different gene mutations). The first type, often referred to as DM1, affects an estimated 1 in 8,000 people worldwide, or nearly 40,000 individuals in the US alone. Since the gene mutation that causes the second type, DM2, was located just a few years ago, its prevalence is still unknown. Other possible types, caused by different mutations, are currently being investigated.

Muscle issues are often, although not always, one of the first complaints of adult patients, characterized by the following:

  • muscle weakness, most commonly seen in the arms, face, neck and often legs
  • progressive muscle wasting (atrophy)
  • stiffness and difficulty relaxing a muscle (myotonia)

However, classifying myotonic dystrophy simply as a muscle disorder is misleading because of the range of systems that can be affected.

The severity of symptoms seen and the range of systems affected can vary greatly between patients, even in the same family. In addition to muscle problems, issues with respiratory function, heart abnormalities, cataracts and the gastrointestinal tract are often seen. However, an affected person does not typically exhibit all, or even most, of the possible symptoms. Often, the disorder is mild and only minor muscle weakness or cataracts are seen late in life. At the opposite end of the spectrum, life-threatening neuromuscular, cardiac and pulmonary complications can occur in the most severe cases when children are born with the congenital form of the disorder. Regardless of the form of DM or the severity of symptoms experienced by a patient, individuals with myotonic dystrophy can have severe and sometimes fatal reactions to anesthesia.

There is currently no cure for myotonic dystrophy.


About the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation

The Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation (MDF), where McConnell serves on the board of directors, exists to enhance the quality of life of people living with myotonic dystrophy (DM), and to maximize research efforts focused on finding treatments and a cure for this disease, through community support, education, advocacy and research. The MDF Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee are comprised of leading experts in the field of myotonic dystrophy and muscle research.


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