Family with sick children struggles to keep their home


Muscular Dystrophy Patients

Kaitlynn LeBeau

Debbie and Dale Ripley spend every day just trying to stay above water. They’ve been struggling for more than 30 years and are now asking for help as they continue to worry about their home and their children.

“When something happens to one of them, I don’t know what it will do to the other one. I think it’s gonna be really hard,” Debbie said.

Her sons, Daniel, 29, and Dustin, 27, have always been inseparable.

“They’re always, always together,” Dale said.

“They do bicker like brothers do, but they’ve always been in the same room, sitting beside each other,” Debbie said. “They’re only a grade apart in school so they were both there together and kind of watch each other’s back.”

The boys graduated from Tallmadge High School. Only two years of age separate them, but make no mistake, the brothers are two very different people.

Dan is the bigger sports guy. He has the Seahawks pegged for a Super Bowl victory this weekend.

“Seattle, no question,” Dan said.

Dustin is a little more quiet than his older brother with Daniel, even speaking for him sometimes.

“He likes the Today Show,” Dan said. Dustin agreed.

They even have different dream jobs of playing sports in Cleveland.

“I wish I could be famous. To be an NBA player,” Dan said. When asked if he would play well with LeBron James, Dan confidently responded, “Yeah, oh yeah.”

“I’d rather play baseball for the Indians,” Dustin said.

But unfortunately, sliding bases and dunking basketballs will stay dreams.

The brothers both have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy — a crippling hereditary disease that keeps your mind sharp but weakens your muscles until you have little to no control of your body.

Dustin even worked at Kent State for a while delivering mail until the disease stole his motor skills.

“They lose all their ability to move,” Debbie said. “Over time, their bodies just give up.”

By the young age of 8-years-old, Danny was in a wheelchair. Dustin by 4-years-old.

The boys are trapped in a daily routine of staring at the ceiling or maybe at least a television. And the family is trapped in debt.

Medical bills, mortgage payments, just trying to keep the lights and the heat on in these cold months, the Ripley’s say every day, they feel like they’re drowning.

“Trouble sleeping has been a big. You know, you’re always thinking about it (the financial burdens). It’s just always there, hanging right here,” Dale said as he gestured above his head.

Debbie is retired on disability. and Dale is out of work from a construction accident.

Dustin said he worries a lot about his parents.

“I stay positive, but I do worry about a lot of stuff,” Dustin said. “Sometimes I pray about it.”

Though they all worry about the home and the boys’ health, Debbie and Dale say their sons are positive and upbeat.

“They really are beating the odds right now,” Debbie said, as this fast-acting disease usually takes a person’s life by age 25. “You have to live day-to-day. You can’t let that bring you down or you wouldn’t be able to function. You just have to go on.”

Any donations big or small would help the Ripleys get their heads above the pool of medical bills and refinance their home.

“It would mean a lot,” Debbie said.

 So far, the family has raised more than $12,000 toward their goal of $82,000.

 To donate to the Ripleys or learn more about their story, visit their GoFundMe page.

Contact Kaitlynn LeBeau at [email protected]

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