Fifth Grader with Muscular Dystrophy Spreads Joy Through Jokes

Ethan LyBrand and family
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When facing hard times it’s always best to channel your inner joy and face your challenges with a smile. Ethan LyBrand, a 10-year-old with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy has a secret to making other people smile, and he’s sharing it with the world via social media. For the past week, Ethan has been delivering a virtual “Joke-a-Day” every day through the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s social media channels.

Filmed by his family at their Decatur, Alabama home, the budding comedian’s favorite jokes provide a daily dose of happiness for those who need it. Ethan’s parents, Jordan and Josh, share that their son is always a source of positivity, so making people smile just comes naturally to him. 

According to the LyBrand family, “Ethan’s Joke a Day for MDA is his way of spreading virtual joy across our communities. It’s also his way of raising awareness and advocacy for people with neuromuscular diseases at this pivotal time. The neuromuscular disease community – people with ALS, muscular dystrophy, SMA, Duchenne and related rare diseases – are among the highest risk populations for COVID-19 and they need our help and support more than ever.”

Ethan was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy two days before his second birthday. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disorder characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement.  Ethan is ambulatory but tires easily and periodically needs his powerchair, which he affectionately calls “Bumblebee” after his favorite Transformer.

Ethan LyBrand

Since his diagnosis, Ethan and his family have created a movement to advocate for other kids living with neuromuscular disease. His efforts were recognized by Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), who named Ethan its 2020-2021 MDA National Ambassador. As MDA’s National Ambassador, Ethan represents the 250,000 people nationwide who are living with neuromuscular disease.

Ethan LyBrand and family

An important way to support research for treatments and ultimately cures for the neuromuscular disease community is by going to to make a donation at any level you’re able to. Your support helps ensure MDA’s 150 Care Centers are equipped to provide critical medical care to kids and adults who are particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. It also supports ongoing care for families like the LyBrands, through telemedicine and enriching activities like virtual game nights.

Ethan LyBrand

Check out MDA’s Twitter and Instagram every afternoon for a new daily joke!


—Jennifer Swartvagher

All photos courtesy of the Muscular Dystrophy Association


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