Noah Springer will head to the center of the field with his Tyler Lee football teammates before the start of Saturday night’s contest against Nacogdoches, just like every game.
But the difference on Saturday night on Earl Campbell Field at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium is there will be an extra person with Springer and the rest of the Red Raiders.
Noah’s younger brother, Samuel, will join the team for the coin toss prior to Saturday’s game, which is part of Coach to Cure MD — a partnership between the American Football Coaches Association and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, the largest national charity devoted exclusively to Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Samuel, a sophomore at Robert E. Lee High School, was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy when he was 7 years old. According to the website for the fundraising event, Duchenne is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed during early childhood. A progressive muscle disorder that causes loss of muscle function and independence, Duchenne muscular dystrophy affects approximately one out of every 5,000 boys and 20,000 babies born each year worldwide. The disorder manifests primarily in boys because the affected gene is found on the X chromosome.
“I don’t really remember much about when it happened,” Samuel said. “It was more of a reaction by my parents. I was just thinking I was like a normal kid, just a little bit slower than everybody else.”
“I was young at the time, so I probably didn’t realize too much about what was going on,” Noah said. “Samuel is such a happy and tough kid. He never made it seem like a huge problem. He just kind of rolled with it and almost seemed like nothing ever changed. He was always just the same person. I’ve always just tried to be there for him because I just love being his brother.”
Noah and Samuel have two younger brothers — Elijah, who is in the seventh grade at Hubbard Middle School, and Levi, who is in the fourth grade at Caldwell Elementary.
Noah is a senior and starting fullback for the Red Raiders, who are 2-0 heading into Saturday. Samuel enjoys watching his brother play football and would like to see the team go 3-0.
“That would be really cool,” Samuel said. “I’m glad that we won against JT. It’s really cool to watch him out there, because I see how hard he works every week and see what he does on the field and that he’s trying really hard. I get nervous sometimes because I don’t want him to get hurt, but I also want him to try as hard as he can, and I think he does really good.”
And for Noah, his brother is a major motivator for him on the field.
“I wear No. 45 because Samuel has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and he has that because his 45th exon (a portion of a gene) is messed up and that’s why I’ve always wore the No. 45, and it’s always just kind of a reminder that I really can’t take for granted that I’m able to play this game. I go out every night, and as much as I play for my teammates, I play for him, and it means a lot for me to do that.”
Even despite having Duchenne from such a young age, Samuel has always looked at the bright side.
“I’m just thankful that it’s not worse,” Samuel said. “I’m blessed I’m in this situation and not in a worse situation. I’m just glad I have friends, family and an older brother that will help me with everything I need. And I just think being happy is the best medicine for sadness.”
The Springer brothers and the Red Raiders are hoping plenty of fans will show their support on Saturday.
“Samuel is awesome, and the whole family is awesome,” Tyler Lee assistant football coach Jason Pitts said. “Anything we can do to help them is great.”
“We really appreciate any donations and anybody that will come out and support raising awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.”
Samuel said, “This is really cool, because it feels like everybody wants to make things better for me. It feels like I’m the king of the world or something and that they’re all coming to watch me.”
For more information or to donate to the cause, visit https://bit.ly/2klgDKS.