Burlington, NC -- He first took his message of empathy and dangers of bullying to some Triad classrooms, and now a Burlington man is getting ready to hit the road and shine a light on a rare genetic disorder.
Christopher Dutcher just wanted to take a road trip but then he thought about it and realized he could accomplish two things at once: go on his cross country tour while stopping to learn and give strength to children who have the same disability as he.
Dutcher's tour will take him through the Carolinas to Missouri to Michigan and several other states across the U.S. in a three-month period.
"I've never tried to do anything like this," he said through laugher. "I mean I've taken road trips for 12 hours, 13 hours, but this is a lot more than that."
Sunday afternoon, Dutcher started loading his car and preparing for the hopscotch across stateliness. His journey begins early on Tuesday.
"It's kind of going to be me learning and me teaching," he said.
Dutcher will be learning and teaching about Mucopolysaccharidosis or MPS - a rare genetic disorder.
"It basically means my body is not able to produce a particular enzyme," said Dutcher who has a form of the disease called Hunter's Syndrome.
MPS has taken it's toll on the 28-year-old, he has been standing less than 4.5 feet tall since he was a teenager.
"I just don't look normal but then again does anyone look normal?" he asked rhetorically.
Dutcher also has trouble with his breathing, vision and hands, which are bent at the knuckles.
"Even strangers look at me and stare and point and laugh. And it kinds of has an effect on you after a while," Dutcher said. "I just learned to accept it."
But the 28-year-old advocate wants others to know they are not alone. It is part of the reason why he's chosen to embark on this trip. Over the course of the three-part journey, he'll will visit some 30 families.
"I'm interested to see how other people have dealt with it."
Dutcher also hopes to offer in insights on the disease while video-documenting the lives of the families.
"I hope to show children that it's possible to do other things," he said. "[I'm hoping to get] basically a 360 degree perspective."
Dutcher who also holds a Master's degree, says he's using his own savings, a grant and donations to make this trip possible.
You can track his cross-country journey through his website here. http://www.ctmad.org/
WFMY News 2