Gabe Weil was a toddler when his parents got the news: The boy they had adopted from Honduras had a progressive genetic condition.
There was no cure, and they should not expect their young son to live beyond his early 20s.
His parents, Dick and Josephine Weil, were, of course, devastated. But as they watched muscular dystrophy begin to take its toll on Gabe — ultimately robbing him of the use of most of his body — they worked with their son to put in motion a plan that focused on living. It would include what in their minds was a final, ambitious goal: graduation from college.
College would be a slow process that took seven and a half years. In 2013, as Gabe was finishing his final year at Washington University, the path he thought he was on took a spectacular turn. Gabe was 25. He had lived longer than anticipated. Doctors were puzzled. They reassessed. The diagnosis as a young boy was wrong. He had a form of MD, but not Duchenne, the type doctors thought when he was 16 months old.
Gabe was now predicted to live well into his 50s.
He and his family were dumbstruck.
“I was like, you know, now what?” Gabe said. He had not set goals that would take him into middle age. His friends from college had moved on, started jobs and relationships.
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