AMHERST — For the third year in a row, Souhegan High School's football team will raise money to help find a cure for a fatal genetic disorder affecting a local family.
The Touchdown Pledge will take place during Friday's home football game when the Sabers will attempt to build awareness and raise funds for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which affects one in every 3,500 boys each year.
Steve Dreher, a teacher at the high school, has a son named Gus, 4, who was diagnosed with DMD in 2010. Shortly thereafter, Dreher and his wife, Tonya, started the Hope for Gus Foundation.
"Since we started the foundation 3½ years ago, Gus's prognosis hasn't changed, but we have seen tremendous strides in the scientific research. We have real reasons to believe that we can stop DMD, and Souhegan has been with us every step of the way," Steve Dreher said in a statement.
On Friday, the Sabers football team, in conjunction with the Hope for Gus Foundation and the Souhegan Ethics Forum, will host the Touchdown Pledge. The public is invited to make a small donation for every touchdown scored during Friday's game, with all the proceeds going toward the fight against DMD.
DMD is a disease that causes muscle deterioration, often causing boys to lose the ability to walk in early adolescence and often die in their late teens or early 20s, according to a release.
In the past two years during the Touchdown Pledge event, the Souhegan community has raised a total of nearly $10,000, according to Mike Beliveau, Souhegan's former football coach.
"This is an amazing opportunity to bring everyone in our community together in support of an initiative that is devoted to a very important outcome," said Beliveau.
Gus's mom, Tonya Dreher, says it is her hope that Gus and other children with DMD may eventually be cured. She thanked teachers and students at Souhegan for supporting her family and the foundation.
Gus is expected to lead the football team onto the field on Friday, warm up with the athletes and join the team captains for the coin toss before standing with the football players on the sidelines. For Friday's special game, the end zone will be temporarily called "The Gus Zone."
Families are being urged to fill out a touchdown pledge form before the game. Donations will also be accepted during the game and educational information about the Hope for Gus Foundation and DMD will be distributed.
The game begins at 7 p.m. on Friday at the high school football firstname.lastname@example.org