Healthy Living

Inspirational Buckeye Fan with Muscular Dystrophy Scores the Final Touchdown

Inspiration Buckeye Fan with Muscular Dystrophy Scores the Final Touchdown

Photo: Jacob Jarvis scoring the winning touchdown. Source: For the Win, USA Today.

Jacob Jarvis is an Ohio State fan, and he suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He is also the player on the Ohio State football team who made the winning touchdown in Ohio State’s 2017 spring game. Good things do happen, and when Jacob made the score, the entire team mobbed him in the end zone. Ohio State’s head coach, Urban Meyer said, “We love Jacob. He’s a part of our family, and he’s been that way for about four years now.”

Jacob was only 17-years old when he took a handoff from J.T. Barrett. Jacob was in his wheelchair, and he tucked the ball under his left arms and set off for the end zone. He used some head fakes and fancy wheelchair strategies to make the 20-yard touchdown. His teammates made some incredible blocks to give Jake a clear way to the end zone.

Have a question aboutDuchenne Muscular Dystrophy?Ask a doctor now

“I found out early this morning, about 10 o'clock," Jarvis said at midfield after the game. "It's been fun. I was very excited to do this. I'd seen a guy do this at Nebraska, and he had cancer. He kind of inspired me to do this. It felt amazing to get in the end zone. Just our offense, I think we played well today, and they blocked well for me to get in the end zone."

Jacob’s story

The diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy happened when Jake was only four years old. Duchenne muscular dystrophy or DMD is the most common form of muscular dystrophy where its symptoms involve the progressive weakness of voluntary muscles. The neuromuscular disease would begin during a patient's childhood and progressively get worse over time.

Muscle weakness begins with the upper legs and pelvic muscles. Over time, patients experience weakness in the upper arms and shoulders and the disease eventually affects the neck and head. The disease impacts the heart and respiratory muscles, and learning can also be impaired. Kids with DMD usually stop walking between 10 and 14 and Jake’s life expectancy is only into his 30's.

A problem in a gene that affects how the body keeps muscles healthy may be the cause of DMD. It generally affects boys, and most symptoms begin in early childhood. Children with DMD have difficulty walking, climbing stairs, and just standing up. Eventually, those children with DMD will need wheelchairs. There may also be heart and lung problems that flare up as the disease worsens.

DMD connects to the chromosomes that determine if your baby is going to be a girl or a boy. It is also possible, but rare, for a child who doesn’t have a history of DMD in their family to contract the disease.

There is no cure, but DMD research has expanded the life expectancy well into the 30's. There are continually new therapies that ease symptoms and research is aggressively looking for new treatments.

Jake is one of the lucky ones. He was able to walk until the 8th grade when he was 14. Jake used his incredible love of God and his unshakeable will to walk for as long as he could, but DMD won out when it got too painful to keep trying.

The 8th grade year was tough. Jake started out by going through Achilles heel surgery to give him the chance to walk for a few more years. It was not enough. Jake broke his ankle and the heartbreaking decision to permanently put him in a wheelchair had to be made. To make a sad situation even worse, this brave little boy suffered the taunts and ridicule of his bad-mannered classmates.

July 2013 and an invitation from OSU lineman Kyle Trout’s family brought Jake and his step-father to Friday Night Lights, a recruiting event held every year in the Ohio Stadium. At the time, Jake did not realize he would find a friend who would change his life and catapult him into the chronicles of Buckeye history.

Urban Meyer and football practice

As he was watching the recruits on the field, Meyer noticed Jake sitting with the onlookers. Jake was excited to meet Coach Meyer, and when the Coach spoke to him, it was as if a light burst. Urban Meyers gave particular attention to Jake by taking the time to show Jake how to throw a football like one of Jake’s heroes, Tim Tebow. With hundreds of high profile recruits vying for Coach Meyer’s time, the Coach took time out to interact with a young man he had never met. Meyer gave Jake the adventure of a lifetime.

Jake and his step-father were invited back to practice, which they quickly accepted. At the training, Jake was sitting with hundreds of other onlookers. Urban Meyer didn’t hesitate, he walked up to Jake and personally invited him into the offensive war room to watch as OSU coaches broke down the film from that day’s practice.

Ever since that first practice, Jake has become a part of the OSU family. He is at every one of OSU's practices and games. Jake and his step-dad were welcomed by Urban Meyer, arguably one of the best coaches in college football, and a lasting friendship began.

The spring game between the Scarlet and the Gray was a high scoring clash featuring a rambunctious battle between backup quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow. It was Jake Jarvis, however, who would steal the spotlight. Senior defensive linemen Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes hatched a plan to get Jake involved in the game plan. “He’s been here with us for so long, been there through the losses, through the wins, so we just decided he deserved that moment.”

The next hurdle was to get Urban Meyer to sign off on the new play. No problem, Meyer was game to the plan. "They asked if we could do that, and I wasn't sure how you would do it," Meyer said. "But we worked it out, and it was the players' idea, which shows you what kind of character we have in our upperclassmen.

Jake got to do something that only a few ever have done – score at the Horseshoe and teaming up in the backfield with players who loved and respected Jake and his struggles.

J.T. Barret, the player who handed the ball to Jake explained, “He’s a Buckeye and just a kid that loves Ohio State and the people around Ohio State. So, to have me hand the all off to him was definitely a honor, and for him to go score, I mean, there’s not a lot of feelings that can replace one when you score in Ohio Stadium. When he comes into a room, it gives you a little perspective on your life. He brightens up everybody each and every time he comes around us. To have him be able to score at Ohio Stadium, it was a special deal.”

Jake’s ride to fame

It was the Inaugural college football playoff in 2015, and Jake Jarvis was on the field not as a fan, but as a player. Coach Meyer gave Jake a high five and released the ball to Jake. Tucking the ball under his left arm, Jake had the “ride” of his life. With six seconds left, Jake took the ball all the way to the end zone for the final touchdown in the Scarlet’s 44-32 win. The crowd at Horseshoe stood on their feet and roared. His Buckeye teammates rallied around him. It was glorious.