Crushing it for Conner: Ridgefield Community Unites to Support Their Own

The Curran family has come together to fight Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, after Conner was diagnosed with the condition.

This article appears in the July/August edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.

There’s a lot to celebrate about lacrosse in Ridgefield.

This tight-knit community nestled in the southwest corner of Connecticut along the New York state line has a thriving youth lacrosse program, as well as a pair of championship-caliber teams at Ridgefield High School.

But one of the Ridgefield’s proudest lacrosse achievements has had nothing to do with wins, titles or growing rosters.

Three years ago, second-grader Conner Curran, the oldest of Ridgefield residents Chris and Jessica Curran’s three sons, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressively fatal genetic disorder that causes major muscle weakness in the limbs and trunk and serious medical issues in the heart and respiratory system. Typically, those that have the disease are confined to a wheelchair by age 12. Because the Duchenne gene is found on the X-chromosome, it primarily affects males.

“When your child receives a devastating diagnosis of a life-limiting disease, it’s a crushing blow and the world as you know it falls apart,” Chris Curran said. “The fear of losing Conner overwhelmed me to the point where I just wanted to live in denial of the diagnosis.”

With strong roots in team sports, the Currans decided that they could not remain on the sidelines and watch as the disease slowly took Conner. The fight was on.
Chris is a coach for Ridgefield Youth Lacrosse. His other sons play. RYL, a community-based US Lacrosse member league that competes in the Connecticut-New York Lacrosse Association, quickly rallied behind the Currans, who have worked tirelessly since Conner’s diagnosis to raise awareness about Duchenne and money for research.

The league organized a “Crushing it for Conner” campaign in which boys’ and girls’ teams waged a friendly competition to see which squad could raise the most money. Pizza parties, gift certificates and new lacrosse sticks were among the prizes for the winners.

“We want our players to develop a love of the game, but also to understand that giving back is a core value,” RYL president Greg Tebbe said. “Crushing it for Conner was an opportunity to teach our kids the value of giving to others, and at the same time support one of our own lacrosse families.”

The funds help to offset Conner’s medical expenses, as well as travel costs to take part in clinical trials at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina. Money is also needed for house adaptations that make life more manageable for Conner.

“The coaches, parents and athletes touched us beyond measure with their huge hearts,” Chris Curran said. “The Ridgefield community has been such a source of comfort to our family.”

The Currans have also become advocates for other families dealing with Duchenne. They spend time reaching out to elected officials for research funding support and have created their own organization, “Kindness Over Muscular Dystrophy,” to help find a cure. KOMD has raised more than $800,000, all of which is committed to Duchenne research and clinical trials.

The Currans partnered with another non-profit, the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, to help accelerate research, impact policy, provide care for affected families and ensure access to approved therapies.

When Chris Curran is not traveling with Conner to a clinical trial or meeting with government representatives, he is back on the RYL sidelines.

“Quitting is not in their vocabulary,” Tebbe said.

Conner has shown improvement thanks to a new gene therapy trial, but researchers are unsure how long it will remain effective. They must also find a way to re-dose patients without causing an extreme allergic reaction.

“We believe the cure is out there for Conner, and we desperately need help to fund promising research in order to find that cure for him and so many others,” Chris Curran said.

To learn more about Duchenne or provide support, visit

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