15,000 Welcome Teen MDA Ambassadors to DECA International Career Development Conference

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MDA National Youth Chairman Luke Christie and former National Goodwill Ambassador Abbey Umali will kick off the 67th annual DECA International Career Development Conference.

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Muscular Dystrophy Association National Youth Chairman Luke Christie and former MDA National Goodwill Ambassador Abbey Umali will help kick off the 67th annual DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) for more than 15,000 DECA students on April 24-25 in Anaheim, Calif.

        The convention starts on Wednesday, April 24 at 7 a.m. when Christie, 19, and Umali, 14, start the third annual DECA Dash with the Diamonds, a 5K run/walk to benefit MDA and DECA’s scholarship fund.

        That evening, the teen duo will team up with DECA National President Morgan Thompson to address a crowd of more than 15,000 conference attendees, including students, alumni, advisers and business people during the Grand Opening Session of the conference at the Anaheim Convention Center.

        Umali is also set to sing for the crowd, and Christie will close the day's events by presenting awards to the top-three DECA Chapters in fundraising for MDA.

        Christie, now in his fifth term as MDA’s National Youth Chairman, is a sophomore at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. He is affected by spinal muscular atrophy, a progressive neuromuscular disease that causes muscle weakness and atrophy. He relies on a power wheelchair for mobility. He is pursuing a degree in the communications field.

        Umali served an unprecedented four years as MDA’s National Goodwill Ambassador (2008-2011) and continues to travel the country in support of the Association’s mission to find better treatments and cures for muscle disease along with her parents, Joel and Wendi. She has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) and walks with the aid of leg braces. CMT is a neuromuscular disease that causes nerve damage and loss of sensation, leading to muscle weakness and atrophy.

        For more than three decades, DECA has been dedicated to its fundraising efforts for MDA to help support those affected by muscle disease. DECA has raised more than $5 million for the Association.

About DECA

        DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.

        DECA enhances the co-curricular education of members through a comprehensive learning program that is integrated into classroom instruction, applies learning, connects to business and promotes competition.

        DECA’s activities assist in the development of academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible, experienced leaders.

        DECA Inc. is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit student organization with more than 200,000 members in all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Canada, China, Germany, Guam, Hong Kong, Korea, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The United States Congress, the United States Department of Education, and state, district and international departments of education authorize DECA’s programs.

        Across the country, its chapters have raised money for MDA through special events that benefit people with muscular dystrophy and related diseases, while creating opportunities for members to develop leadership and marketing skills.

About MDA

        MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.

        In addition to funding more than 250 research projects worldwide, MDA maintains a national network of 200 medical clinics; facilitates hundreds of support groups for families affected by neuromuscular diseases; and provides local summer camp opportunities for thousands of youngsters living with progressive muscle diseases.

        For more information, visit mda.org and follow MDA on Facebook (facebook.com/MDAnational) and Twitter (@MDAnews).

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Roxan Olivas
Muscular Dystrophy Association
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