Peyton Longo loves any and all Buffalo sports teams.
But he’s not all about the ball…he has the brains to back it up, too.
An honor roll student, he’s always been one to exceed goals and expectations. Especially since being diagnosed with Bethlem Myopathy 8 years ago.
It’s a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy, Peyton has lived with since he was 7-years-old, and last year it rendered him unable to walk.
A growth made it so the muscles in his legs couldn’t support his body weight anymore, and now uses a wheelchair to get around, but it does not slow this 15-year-old down in the least.
In fact, after years of watching sports from the sidelines, he's now an honorary member of the University at Buffalo football team. His addition was made possible by Team IMPACT. That nonprofit drafts children onto college athletic teams, to help improve their quality of life and give them a support system as they battle life-threatening and chronic illnesses.
"The first week it was just surreal," Peyton said. "It was like 'Wow, I actually get to do this.'"
And players on the team say they have really bonded with Peyton.
"We're enjoying him as much as he's enjoying us," said linebacker Khalil Hodge.
But Peyton and family are dealing with another struggle beyond Peyton's condition: Medicaid won’t cover many of his expenses. That's because the form of Muscular Dystrophy Peyton has doesn’t hurt his cognitive function.
But now, there's an effort to help the Longo's get the money they need to support Peyton.
The Eagle House Restaurant has partnered with 26 Shirts to on a shirt called "Still the Ralph." It's being sold through November 4th. It costs $24.95, and $8 from every sale will be donated to Peyton.
The money raised will help the Longo family to help pay for a wheelchair ramp, a properly fitted wheelchair, and some home modifications to make it easier for Peyton to get around the house.
The family has also started a gofundme to help with costs, you can donate here.