Rocky Hill man who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy gets surprises from Tom Brady, UConn
Justin Miller has spinal muscular atrophy, something he has dealt with his whole life. SMA impacts a person's motor skills, muscles and nervous system, including the spinal cord, and eventually the ability to eat, talk or breath. SMA research is funded by the Muscular Dystrophy Association, though they are separate diseases.
Justin never really got the chance to walk, to play sports, or to go places that aren't wheelchair accessible, his sister Heather wrote in a heart-wrenching post on Huffington Post. In the letter, Heather wrote about his incredible determination despite extreme obstacles: his lung collapsed on his fifth birthday, and he nearly died. But he didn't, and now he's 27 and an "expert" at Apple who trains other employees.
What's even more incredible? After Heather wrote that Justin was just two classes away from a UConn degree, the college surprised him with the news on Sunday that he'd be awarded an honorary degree! So his family and friends gathered to throw him a surprise party.
Unfortunately, time may be running out. Justin has a large cyst on his throat. It was drained earlier this summer to allow him to swallow food, but it has returned.
Due to the risky position it is in, surgery cannot be done, and draining it again isn't an option without doing a tracheotomy--an incision in the windpipe. Justin does not want a tracheotomy, which would be permanent and impact Justin's ability to continue to eat or speak or breathe on his own. He says that is not how he wants to spend the rest of his time, so he has decided to not have any further surgeries. It's possible it could go away on its own, but not necessarily likely.
While that may not happen, the famous quarterback did reach out personally to Justin on Sunday. Tom Brady sent a personalized video message to Justin, which has been viewed about 150,000 times in less than a day. The video was played for a beaming Justin at his party.