Finding a cure for a little cowboy

September 2, 2020

Families from across the West have come together to support a Worden, Montana family that has been impacted by a rare disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Six-year-old Grant Heaton was diagnosed with DMD three years ago. Currently there is not a cure for the disease. 

According to, Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common form of muscular dystrophy, occurring in approximately 1:5,000 male births. Those affected with Duchenne lose their ability to walk, feed themselves, breathe independently and succumb to heart failure. But there’s hope through new pharmacological and gene-based therapies.

Since Grant’s diagnosis, his parents Paul and Laura along with his sister Elyse have been working to find a cure for DMD.

Click Play to listen to Paul Heaton and Lane Nordlund discuss the details of the upcoming fundraiser. 

Historically, most boys who have DMD do not survive beyond their mid-twenties, and those that do will be using a wheelchair by age 12 and experience social isolation. The simplest of tasks become difficult, and in the later stages, heart and breathing muscles begin to fail. Nearly 15,000 boys are living with the disease in the United States alone and over 300,000 worldwide. The disorder knows no cultural, economic, or social boundaries.

To help find a cure, the Heaton family, with the help of Billings Livestock Commission, started the “Calves to Cure DMD” fundraiser. At 1:00 PM on Thursday September 17, 2020 during the all class cattle sale, farmers and ranchers can donate a portion or all of their livestock sells proceeds to fund research to find a cure for DMD.

“We put together a regular all class cattle sale, nothing special,” explained Paul Heaton. “We will take anything. It does not have to be a calf. It can be a yearling, a bull, an old cow. Our target is anything that's not going to go on a semi this fall. Just anything going to the sale anyways.”

Heaton explained that the proceeds that are raised go directly to the Cure Duchenne organization to further research and advancements to find a cure for DMD.

“This isn't the type of sale where one calf sells four times,” said Heaton. “You bring in your animal and it sells for regular market price. Then whatever you want to donate goes to Cure Duchenne. They are the leader in this area. They have funded research startups. They're making progress with clinical trials and different drugs that are starting to to help with this disease. So, we are very proud to raise money for Cure Duchenne with our sale.”

Heaton said the donation is tax deductible and producers can donate any amount from their livestock sale to fund the important research.

“The seller gets to pick how much of their check is donated,” said Paul. “It comes right off your sale barn check like a commission fee. Some people donate their entire check. That blows me away every time it happens. Some donate a set dollar amount, like a hundred dollars. Or 50% of their check.”

This is the second year in a row that Billings Livestock Commission has hosted the Calves to Cure DMD event. In 2019, $17,000 was raised using the sale format. Giving hope to families, like the Heaton’s, that there will be a cure for this horrible disease.

If you cannot donate livestock, you can bid during the sale on a whole beef donated by Sian Land and Livestock that will be auctioned off. Processing of the beef is donated by Charlie Hollenbeck at Cowboy Meat Co. in Forsyth.

All animal donations (regardless of amount donated) will go into a drawing for a Ruger 6.5 Creedmoor rifle donated by 406 Precision of Twin Bridges.

Contact Information for Sale Details:

Paul and Laura Heaton P.O. Box 131 Worden, MT 59088 (406) 660-1208

Billings Livestock Commission P.O. Box 31533 2443 N. Frontage Road Billings, MT 59101 (406) 245-4151

CureDuchenne, Christy Anderson (949) 872-2552

If you can’t donate livestock you can visit and make a donation in Grant Heaton’s name.

Producers are encouraged to fill out a consignment form for the sale specifying their wish to donate a portion of the proceeds to Calves to Cure DMD. Those forms and more information can be found be clicking here. 

Source: Lane Nordlund Western Ag Network