When it takes 32 muscles to put on a T-shirt

Langley's Graham Koshman has been chosen to be this year's ambassador the Safeway Muscular Dystrophy Walk on Saturday in Bear Creek Park.

Graham Koshman

Graham Koshman

 

For most students at Walnut Grove Secondary, rushing from class to class is as easy as breathing.

For Grade 10 student Graham Koshman neither walking nor breathing comes easily.

Koshman has severe Beckers muscular dystrophy — a condition that causes his muscles to be very weak, making something as simple as putting on a T-shirt, a  monumental task. Making his way through the hallways of Langley’s most populated school can be a challenge for this 15-year-old honour roll student, but he wants everyone to know he’s up for it.

This positive attitude and determination to spread awareness about muscular dystrophy has landed him some accolades lately. Firstly with being chosen as the ambassador for this Saturday’s Safeway Muscular Dystrophy Walk in Bear Creek Park in Surrey and secondly as the recipient of a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal which he will receive at a dinner held in October.

At the age of six, Graham’s parents took him to his doctor after he complained of pain after every skating lesson. That led to an MRI scan that nearly cost him his life when the anesthetic caused his muscles to stop working. Rushed to Children’s Hospital after urinating blood and unable to move on his own, Koshman was seen by numerous specialists. It was a neuromuscular specialist who diagnosed him with having severe Beckers — a condition that affects one in every 3,500 to 5,000 boys.

“There are over 100 different neuromuscular diseases and I got severe Beckers, but it doesn’t feel severe to me,” said Koshman while sitting in his backyard last week.

It’s a condition that so many people know so little about.

“Not many people know about muscular dystrophy so that’s why I’m always willing to come forward to talk about it and spread awareness,” said Koshman.

Showing an amazing amount of bravery, Koshman made presentation to his classmates in Grades 4, 7 and 8, describing how muscular dystrophy affects him and how best to deal with someone with a disability.

“I let them know to be careful around me in the hallways,” he said. But really what Koshman wants is to be treated like everyone else.

“Support me but don’t patronize me,” he said. “What I mean by that is people seem to want to congratulate me on every normal task I accomplish and sometimes that makes me feel like an outcast.”

In Grade 8, Koshman was bullied very badly for walking a little slower than everyone else. It was a difficult time for his family but he said he’s learned to become his own advocate out of it. The bullying has stopped and students have matured, he said.

He belongs to the Humanitarian Club at WGSS and every second week he gives a short presentation about his goals to support muscular dystrophy research. He then passes around a jar and asks friends to donate any spare change.

“I’ve collected $220 from that,” he said proudly.

His dream is to one day organize a walk at his school in support of muscular dystrophy.

A Scout since he was five, and now a Venturer, his fellow troupmates are volunteering their time to set up at Saturday’s walk.

Already raising nearly $1,000, a large donation from a distant friend left the whole Koshman family awestruck.

In 2008, Koshman was part of the Sunshine Foundation’s DreamLift day in Disneyland that sent 82 B.C. kids on a chartered flight for one special day at the happiest place in the world. The Langley Times went along for that inspiring trip, documenting the day for readers. Koshman was buddied up with an Orange County sherrif for the day, while taking in rides and fun.

The two have stayed in touch via email since then. Koshman told him he was going to be the ambassador for the walk. After that a cheque for $500 arrived.

“That really touched us, we were just in awe,” said Graham’s mom Barb.

Koshman’s disease prevents his body from making enough dystrophin so he has no way to rebuild muscles. It makes his muscles weak  and causes a lot of pain.

There is no cure yet so most of the  medication he takes is to manage the pain.

He takes cup full of pills, three times a day. He also has to do a lot of stretching and swimming.

The Koshmans have seen the benefits of the Walk funds, helping them pay for a stair lift for Graham, as well as bathroom renovations.

The walk starts at 11 a.m.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Just Posted

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

Launched in January, Uplift Canada was founded by Tsawwassen resident Maggie Larocque. (submitted photo)
Surrey shelters get clothing collected June 26 by Uplift Canada

Book a pickup on website of the new non-profit, founded by Delta resident

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
‘Springsteen on Broadway’ clears way for AstraZeneca recipients to attend show

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Most Read