TUCSON, Ariz. – His charm is unmistakable. His verbal skills are undeniable. His charisma is, well, unbelievable. He's Luke Christie, and he has just been named the Muscular Dystrophy Association's National Youth Chairman for the third consecutive year.
"I'm very thrilled to be doing this job again. It's a great role,'' said Christie, who also served as the MDA National Goodwill Ambassador in 2006 and 2007. "There is so much not known by people of my generation about MDA. But, let's face it, we are the future. Sometimes when you are young, you have a tendency of feeling like you can't make a difference, and that's not true. MDA isn't like that. If you are young or old you can make a difference and do great things for MDA.''
Christie, 17, a senior at Dixie High in Due West, S.C, has been making a difference since being the MDA state representative nearly a decade ago. He also served as MDA Harley-Davidson Goodwill Ambassador in 2008.
Luke shows great character and determination. He is a super achiever and an excellent role model for generations of Americans," said MDA President & CEO Gerald C. Weinberg. "Luke is a positive force for change, and MDA is blessed to have him serving a third term as its National Youth Chairman."
Christie lives with his parents, Gloria and Brad, and two older brothers, Parker and Spencer. 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.
"We're very proud of Luke,'' his father said. "He is remarkably gifted at communicating and delivering MDA's message to people of all ages and stages. There are a lot of adults who aren't able to do that.''
Christie, throughout the years, has represented MDA at sponsor and volunteer events, media interviews and on the Telethon, where he serves as co-host of the youth segments.
Co-Hosts Billy Gilman and
Alison Sweeney with Luke Christie
Christie, an honor student, serves as President of South Carolina's Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA); is active in Beta Club; and was a 2008 Global Teen Leader in the We Are Family Foundation Three Dot Dash Just Peace Initiative. He is a life-ranked Boy Scout and is scheduled to receive his Eagle Scout award in June 2011.
"In my 33 years of teaching, Luke Christie is by far the most energetic, well-rounded, excited, responsible, dependable and positive student I have ever encountered,'' said Gaye McKee, Dixie High's computer technology teacher and FBLA adviser. "Luke excels in everything he does … Luke is an amazing young man. He has truly been an inspiration to me.''
Christie also acts and volunteers at a community theater, enjoys writing, reading and listening to county music, and serves as the arts and entertainment editor of his high school newspaper. He plans to attend college and pursue a career in communications when he graduates in 2011.
"I thank and credit MDA for my future career path,'' he said. "My work speaking and traveling has helped. I get to do a lot — including doing some editing — and the more I do the more I enjoy it. And, the more I've worked with MDA, the more I've been exposed to media and its outreach. Because of it, I knew exactly what I've wanted to do.''
As MDA National Youth Chairman, Luke will continue to work closely with MDA youth sponsors such as DECA, an association of marketing students; Kappa Alpha Order, a fraternal order with 150,000 members nationwide; and National Beta Club, an academic honor society and service organization for middle and high school students. He'll also continue to promote MDA's longstanding partnership with other major sponsors.
"The greatest impact I've had is to educate people one-on-one,'' Christie said. "DECA is a perfect example. I spend time at a booth during their convention and people come up to me and say they didn't know anything about MDA, but because I gave a speech, they now know what we do. I've had that happen every single year. It definitely helps spread MDA's message.''
MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.