Firefighters fight for Dylan with fund

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Before Dylan O’Connor reached his teens, he was diagnosed with the most common form of muscular dystrophy in children – Duchenne.
Now at the age of 16, he is bound to a wheelchair and relies on his canine companion, Tess, for help opening doors, picking up items from the floor and other commands as needed.
But Dylan’s limited mobility doesn’t stop him from doing what he enjoys. He is a self-taught technology enthusiast, making and editing videos.
His mom, Crystal, equipped with her teaching credential, home schools Dylan along with his four siblings. Crystal said Dylan has always been very sharp, especially when it comes to computers.
But since Dylan’s diagnosis, money has been tight for the family of seven.
About two years ago, Dylan underwent spinal fusion surgery where doctors inserted rods into his back to keep him upright. Crystal said it was a tough recovery and at one point Dylan developed an infection. With no way to get Dylan to the hospital, their in-home nurse suggested non-emergency transportation. Rocklin firefighters came to their home and assisted in transporting Dylan to the hospital.
What came next, the O’Connors will never forget.
The family made an impact on one of the firefighters – so much so that he relayed the information to Rocklin Fire Chief Bill Mikesell and a fund for the family was set up.
“I don’t know if it was the compassion in his heart,” but he wanted to help, Crystal said.
The fund, set up through Crossroads Community Church in Rocklin, has brought in enough money for the O’Connors to pay their $400 a month van payment. Their van is essential for the family as it has a wheelchair lift.
Crystal said it’s been incredible to see the support during a time when they needed it the most.
“It’s amazing that people that you don’t know or may never know (help)… it’s overwhelming,” she said. “There are good people in this world, there are people that want to give.”
The fund was set up a couple years ago and the family has seen constant compassion from the community and calls it a “huge blessing.”
“It just snowballed from there … in a good way,” Crystal said.
The type of muscular dystrophy Dylan has is the most aggressive, Crystal said. The fact that the disease is incurable came as a huge surprise to the family, she said. A shock like that can either make or break a family. The O’Connor’s chose the former.
“It’s been a long road and a hard battle, but we keep going,” Crystal said. “We just believe God’s got it taken care of. God knows what you can handle and what you can’t handle.”
Through Nov. 9, people will have the opportunity to not only help the O’Connor family, but also win a trip to Lake Tahoe through a raffle. Each $20 donation will receive one entry into the drawing. The winner will receive a free week-stay at The Ridge Tahoe Resort starting Dec. 24. The condo sleeps six people and includes amenities like a full kitchen, fireplace and washer and dryer in the unit. For more information on the raffle, contact Colleen Mikesell at 771-7171.
Dylan said he appreciates the community’s continued support.
“It feels good, I’m really grateful,” he said.

Help the O'Connor family
Dylan O’Connor Fund helps the Rocklin family in their battle against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
How to help: purchase a raffle ticket; $20 each; for a chance to win a week stay in Tahoe
Make checks payable to: Hearts Without Borders; mail to Fire Chief Bill Mikesell, 4060 Rocklin Road, Rocklin, CA 95677
Drawing will be held at 5 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Rocklin Fire Station, Crest Drive and Stanford Ranch Road
Information: Colleen Mikesell at 771-7171