KENNEBUNK, Maine — Nathan Taylor of Kennebunkport and Staff Sgt. Michael Gould, formerly a Kennebunk resident, are on a mission. Their goal is to raise money to fix a handicapped-accessible van for the Gould family of Lower Village, Kennebunk, so that Jacob Gould is able to have transportation again, and to make life a little easier for the family.
Jacob Gould, a 16-year-old student at Kennebunk High School and the youngest of four children, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He is Staff Sgt. Michael Gould’s brother.
“He absolutely loves life,” Gould said of his baby brother. “He does have his moments when he gets sad and ask why this happened to him and why does he have to die, but he always comes out staying hopeful that people will see him and learn from him and see how happy he is even with these problems. So many people have told him he is an inspiration and he loves helping people and just making people happy,”
According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, “Duchenne muscular dystrophy [DMD] is a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. It is one of nine types of muscular dystrophy caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact.”
Taylor said Jacob’s condition is particularly severe.
“This poor boy can barely move his head/neck, and can only use his hands enough to use his electric wheelchair,” he said.
Jacob depends on the van that is currently inoperable to get him to and from his appointments and to most places, other than school. Just last week, the van that is the family’s lifeline and allows Jacob the freedom to get where he needs to broke down.
“Something happened with the engine and it’s going to take $3,000 in order to get it fixed,” Taylor said.
In order to help fix the van, Taylor and Gould set up a fundraising effort called “Jacob’s Transportation Fund” on the website Youcaring.com, which is a free site for fundraising online, and within a few hours more than $400 had already been raised.
Taylor then contacted local newspapers and news stations, which helped spread the word on Facebook. Within hours, the total donated stood at more than $3,000 — the original goal — but both men have decided to keep going, to help the family pay for additional medical services and expenses as well as to provide food and heat for them to get through the winter.
“They’re my best friends and I’d do just about anything to help them during any hardship,” Taylor said. He added, “Every penny and dime made from this fundraiser will be going directly towards the $3,000 needed to fix the van … the extra will be put towards his future medical expenses.”
Those medical expenses would hopefully include a home care aid for Jacob as well.
“I wish they were able to get a nurse or someone to help a bit because my father can barely lift Jacob to take him to the bathroom, and I am not stationed close by,” Gould said.
Jacob’s father, Michael Gould Sr., is humbled by the fundraising efforts that his son and his son’s friend have taken on.
“My wife Kimberly and I would like to say thank you to everyone who is making such an effort for us,” he said. “We have had such a rough few years and we were not sure where to turn. We did not even think to ask anyone for help. We have just been taking it day by day … we are just very grateful that Nate and Mike did this for us. It means the world to us that they made this effort for Jacob and Jacob is happy that they are doing this for him too.”
To donate, or for more information on Jacob’s Transportation Fund, please visit www.youcaring.com/jacobstransportationfund.