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Class of '17: Fort Worth Student Won't Let Debilitating Disease Stop Him

Mark Birnbaum
Chance Hawkins is an 11th grader at Dunbar High School in Fort Worth.

Chance Hawkins has all the junior year challenges of his classmates at Fort Worth’s Dunbar High School. His personal challenge is even bigger – he’s battling a degenerative muscle disease. Chance is one of the students KERA has been following for its American Graduate series, “What’s Next for the Class of ’17?” In this latest installment, Chance talks about how this school year has been and what he’d like to do in the future.

Chance Hawkins will be the first to tell you, he doesn’t dwell on what he can’t do.

That he can’t walk. That he can’t get out of bed without the help of an aide.

That he can’t get ready for school every morning without his big brother right there, wiping his face with a wash cloth or putting toothpaste on a toothbrush.

“I know nobody in this world is perfect and God didn’t want it to perfect,” Chance said. “Because if it was perfect, everybody would just feel like oh, we all perfect, so we all don’t have nothing to worry about.”

Chance, who just turned 18, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy – a rare genetic disorder that affects one in 3,600 boys. Over time, the muscles progressively weaken. In most cases, death comes by age 25.

Learn more about Chance here. And explore the rest of the Class of ’17 series here.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.