Eight-year-old Jackson Maynard is like most boys.

Eight-year-old Jackson Maynard is like most boys.

He enjoys playing with his second-grade classmates at Avery Elementary School, competing in pickup basketball games with his father, spending time with his older brother and sister and romping with his family's four dogs.

Unlike most boys, Jackson has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition that affects about one in 3,500 boys and results in muscle degeneration and premature death.

It has no cure.

But Jackson's parents, Joe and Kelly, are working to change that through an organization the family founded in 2013, the Little Hercules Foundation.

It was an effort that might have seemed improbable when Joe, 47, and Kelly, 44, learned in 2012 their 5-year-old Jackson, the youngest of their three children, would not likely survive to age 30.

The Maynards also have a 25-year-old daughter, Whitney Beck, and a 14-year-old son, Joey Maynard Jr.

"When we first found out, there was a dark cloud and a lot of gloom," Joe Maynard said. "Nothing can prepare you for a day like that."

Kelly Maynard said a friend, upon observing Jackson's muscle weakness, enlarged calves and a telltale gait, first suggested she research Duchenne.

"I knew when I read it that was it," she said.

But after a brief period of shock and grief, the Maynards realized they did not have to willingly accept what had been dealt them.

"Instead of woefully asking, 'Why me?' I thought, 'Why not me?' ... and what can I do to change it?" Kelly Maynard said.

About 18 months after she founded the Little Hercules Foundation, Kelly Maynard quit her 20-year job in state government.

To date, the foundation has raised about $100,000.

The foundation has given about $50,000 to seven different projects, including clinics and drug companies, aimed at managing Duchenne muscular dystrophy or finding a cure, Maynard said.

Jackson also is part of a clinical trial at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

He is the first of six boys accepted into the trial.

On April 6, Jackson received 36 injections, 18 in each leg, of the protein follistatin, a myostatin inhibitor said to prevent muscle deterioration.

It is a one-time dosing and Jackson returns to the clinic every two weeks for checkups.

For Jackson and the other boys in the trial, progress isn't likely to be measured in terms of improvement as much as it will be by holding their own.

"If there isn't any deterioration, then it's a success," Kelly Maynard said.

To augment the treatments, Jackson is required to ride a stationary bicycle at home every three days for 30 minutes.

Staff members at Nationwide Children's Hospital modified a standard boy's bicycle to lift the back wheel off the ground.

Attached to the handlebars is a tablet computer programmed with games that are activated only when Jackson is pedaling.

"It's an incentive that makes it fun for him," Kelly Maynard said.

On other days, Jackson does exercises such as lifting his legs with 2-pound weights strapped to his ankles.

Otherwise, the family tries to make everything else typical for Jackson.

"We don't think about it or dwell about it. ... We work on making good memories every day," Kelly Maynard said.

"It's a roller coaster of emotions," Joe Maynard said.

He said he took to heart what he heard in a parents support group

"A father (whose son had a fatal disease) talked about losing his job and his wife because of alcoholism," he said. "I knew we needed to be stronger to help Jack and each other."

Jackson's second-grade classmates recently raised $305 for the Little Hercules Foundation.

The children made 3-D snowflakes and bracelets, selling them for 50 cents to $1 as quickly as their hands could manufacture them during lunch periods for two weeks.

The foundation's largest fundraisers include Pinot and Purses, a handbag auction held in April, and the Duchenne Dash, a 5K run scheduled July 11 at Highbanks Metro Park.

"This is on my shoulders and I'll give it all I have every day. I think we will find a cure," Kelly Maynard said. "I know (Duchenne muscular dystrophy) won't go away, but I think we can make it a chronic, manageable condition, not a fatal one."