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Friends build deck for Fargo man living with muscular dystrophy

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Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Friends are banding together to help a Fargo man who may be the oldest living person with his form of muscular dystrophy.

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Because of his condition, Gyle Peterson uses a wheelchair and ventilator 24/7, and it used to be hard for him to get outside.

The deck outside his home is nearly finished, but they've run out of funds for materials. Now, they're reaching out to the community for help.

Gyle Peterson is enjoying the sunshine on his new, but not-quite-finished, deck.

"It's good spending time with his dad instead of being cooped up in his room all day. They get to come out here and enjoy coffee and cookies,” says Caregiver, Mariah Jackson.

Gyle turns 60 years old this month, and reaching that milestone is no small feat. He says he's the oldest living person with his severe form of Muscular Dystrophy. Life expectancy is about 20, and Gyle's sister, who had the same form of MD, died at age 6.

Gyle spoke with us through his caregiver, Mariah.

"He said, 'I don't know, I guess I'm stubborn,” says Jackson.

Recently, a non-profit group offered to build a handicap accessible deck at the house Gyle and his father Lyle have lived in since 1955.

But funding fell through - so some of Gyle's friends took the project upon themselves.

"He's a super nice guy, would do anything for anybody,” says Friend of Gyle’s Darin Mogck.

"He would bend over backwards for you if he could!” says Friend of Gyle’s Stephen Belcourt.

Lyle bought the materials, and they started building. 

They got this far before they ran out of funds and materials.

"We're a little bit low on the funding to complete the rails and the skirting, which is a necessity to have on there to make sure it's safe,” says Belcourt.

So now, they're asking for the community's help through a page on gofundme.com to finish the deck, and do some remodeling inside.

"Gyle also has a pretty small bedroom in his house and he wants to convert a family room into a bedroom,” says Mogck.

"The lift is constantly hitting the walls, the doors, everything in here,” says Jackson.

There is still work to do, but for now Gyle is loving the hours spent outside chatting with family, friends, and neighbors that stop by.

Jackson: "He says his only regret is not building this deck before his mom died. It would have been awesome to spend some time out here with her,” says Jackson.

If you'd like to help, you can find a link to the go-fund-me page by clicking here to donate to Gyle's project.

Or on the popular "Fargo-Moorhead Facebook Buy and Sell" page that Gyle created.

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Becky Parker
Becky Parker - Becky Parker joined the WDAY 6 News team in July of 2012. She was born and raised in Williston, North Dakota.  She graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in political science.   At NDSU, Becky served as News Director for ‘SU TV News, the university’s first ever student-run newscast. She was also an anchor and reporter for the organization.   Before coming to WDAY, Becky was reporting for Lakeland Public Television at their Brainerd, MN bureau. She also spent internship hours at WDAZ in Grand Forks and KVRR Fox in Fargo.   If you have story ideas or questions, please e-mail Becky at bparker@wday.com
(701) 241-5322
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