Valley family returns to MDA Muscle Walk to honor son's big brother

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Shelle and Chris Harman spend their days chasing after a very busy 21-month-old, but they have extra patience with this active little boy. They can't get enough of him. Young Jase is actually the Harman's second-born son. 

Their first son, Logan, was just 6 months old when he was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, a muscle-wasting disease that robbed him of the ability to crawl, walk or even hold up his own head. After his diagnosis, doctors told the Harmans all they could do was take Logan home and love him, as he wasn't expected to live another two weeks.

Logan surprised everyone by living four years. He passed away in May 2009. 

Several years later, the Harmans gave birth to Jase. Although he does not have SMA, he is a genetic carrier of the disease. 

The Harmans appreciate every moment with Jase, knowing that he will get to do so much more than Logan ever had the chance to do. His every experience is not only new to him, it's new to them, too, so different from their experience with Logan.

"I think now, it makes me appreciate a lot more the little things that he [Jase] can can do," Chris Harman said. "It's exciting. It's everything I imagined that it would be."

The Harman family has been active in the MDA community, raising money to help find a cure for diseases like SMA. They've found it hard to attend the annual Muscle Walk since Logan, the big brother Jase will never meet, passed away. 

This year, they say they've had time to heal and it's time for them to get out and spread awareness and raise money to help find a cure. They formed a team -- Logan's Legacy -- and will be chasing Jase around Tempe Town Lake on Saturday, alongside many other Arizona families hoping and praying for a cure for muscular dystrophy. 

"There are 43 different MDA diseases and Logan had just one," Shelle said tearfully. "There are so many families out there that hope for a cure for their child, for their spouse, for their dad, for their mom."

The National Institutes of Health lists SMA as the neurologic disease closest to a cure, and the Harmans are determined to be a part of finding it.

Editor's note: April Warnecke has been involved with the MDA year after year since her first TV job in southern Oregon in 2001.