"In this world, we do not depend solely on generous billionaires and large corporations. Ordinary people can achieve a lot together.
Siona Rondou is the manager of Rondou Butchery in Leuven, Belgium, which she owns together with her husband Filip. Rondou Butchery is a successful establishment with a long tradition, serving top quality meat and providing its products to high-end restaurants throughout the region. The Rondous have two children, Elias and Hannah.
When Elias was five years old, he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an incurable genetic disease that affects one in about 3,000 boys. The disease causes muscles to gradually weaken and atrophy, and those affected by it usually become wheelchair-bound around the age of nine and only live to about 20 or 30 years. Despite the grim diagnosis, the Rondous never lost hope. They established contact with Professor Gunnar Buyse, a neurologist and paediatrician who is part of a team which conducts research into treatment options with the potential to vastly improve and prolong the lives of Duchenne sufferers.
Encouraged by their progress, the Rondous endowed the Rondou Fund for Duchenne Research, with Siona becoming the Fund's organiser and Professor Buyse becoming its administrator. The goal of the Rondou Fund is twofold: to raise awareness of Duchenne dystrophy and to raise money for improving patient care and research. Soon after establishing the Fund, the Rondous hosted a well-attended benefit dinner that brought in 70,000 euros for support of researchers, clinicians, afflicted children and their parents.
'We want to give the decisive push because we have already come so far,' said Siona after the fundraiser. 'We hope that as many children as possible with Duchenne can eventually see their sickness evolve from life-threatening to chronic.'