Tag Archives: Dave Stalling

Dave Stalling’s Wild Montana Calendar

David Stalling loved the outdoors. Growing up in Westport, he was an avid hiker, camper and fisherman.

After graduating from Staples High School in 1979, he served in a Marine Corps Force Recon unit. He has degrees in forestry and journalism, has worked for several wildlife conservation organizations, served as president of the Montana Wildlife Federation, and is a passionate advocate for conservation. He lives in Missoula.

But Stalling did not take nature photography seriously until he went walking in the woods with his son.

A decade ago, Cory was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. A severe form of the disease, characterized by rapid muscle degeneration.  Eventually, even involuntary muscles are affected.

Cory and David Stalling

Cory is now 18. When he was 12, and first slowed down, Stalling would walk ahead. He’d sit on a rock or log, and wait for his son.

“I started noticing surrounding details: diverse, smaller, colorful plants; rocks painted with lichen; the geometrical shapes of tree buds; the beautiful, ever-changing arrangements of raindrops, snow, sun, dew shade,” Stalling recalls. “It was the art of nature.”

He surprised himself that — despite a lifetime of roaming the wilds — he’d overlooked such details. Or taken them for granted.

Or didn’t even know they existed.

So Stalling started to capture what he saw with his camera.

“My son taught me to ‘slow down and smell the roses,” he says. “And — while I was at it — to photograph the thorns.”

David Stalling’s photo of a bighorn sheep.

His images are popular. Stalling has won national awards, including a recent 1st-place prize from the National Wildlife Federation. He sells limited-edition prints.

Every December, Stalling combines his love for photographing the wilds with his love for his son. He creates a “Calendar for a Cure,” to raise awareness and funds to find treatments and a cure for Duchenne MD. Besides Cory, the disease afflicts 400,000 people worldwide.

“It’s a genetic, muscular degenerative, fatal disease for which there is currently no cure,” Stalling says.

“But there is hope. A lot of treatments, like the steroid-based medications Cory takes, slow the progression.” Promising clinical trials are underway too.

“I use my photography to focus on hope and beauty, while helping my son and others,” Stalling explains.

Images from David Stalling’s 2018 calendar.

Cory — a high school senior — spends as much time as he can in the beautiful, wild mountains surrounding his home.

And, following in his father’s footsteps — literally and figuratively — he’s a budding photographer too.

(To enjoy 365 days of wild Montana in 2018 — and help Cory and others with Duchenne MD — click here. The calendar costs $16.95. The deadline to order is November 10; calendars will be shipped in December.)

Mr. Cory Goes To Washington

Dave Stalling is a native Westporter. He served in a Marine Corps Force Recon unit, earned degrees in forestry and journalism, and has worked for several wildlife conservation organizations.

Dave is also the proud father of a young man named Cory. This is Dave’s guest post, on “06880.”

Although he grew up in Westport around the same time I did, I never met Peter Weisman. He had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and died at the age of 15. It was 1980 — just a year after I graduated from Staples.

Mary-Lou Weisman bookI learned about Peter nearly 30 years later when another Westport friend, Bill Handley, gave me Intensive Care: A Family Love Story. Written by Peter’s mother Mary-Lou Weisman, it described her family and son’s struggle with Duchenne. (The book was made into a 1985 movie, “A Time to Live.” It earned Liza Minnelli a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Mary-Lou.)

When I read her book in 2009, I had lived in Montana for 23 years. My own son, Cory, had just been diagnosed with Duchenne. He was 9.

I was devastated. I felt a need to talk to Mary-Lou. So out of the blue, I called her.

At first she thought I was a solicitor and said she was busy. I quickly said, “My son was just diagnosed with Duchenne.” After a bit of silence she replied, “For you, I have all the time in the world.”

She has indeed given me a lot of time, and helped me through the tumultuous journey of coming to terms with my son having a fatal disease. Her advice and encouragement inspires hope. A lot has changed since Peter died: New treatments are available; scientists feel they are close to a potential cure, and clinical trials are underway with promising results.

But more awareness, support and money is urgently needed to turn hope into reality.

Cory and I recently traveled from our home in Missoula to Washington, DC. We participated in an advocacy conference organized by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a national nonprofit leading the fight to end Duchenne. Cory met collectively and one-on-one with the entire Montana congressional delegation: Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh, and Congressman Steve Daines.

Cory hangs with Senator Jon Tester of Montana.

Cory hangs with Senator Jon Tester of Montana.

Congressman Daines took Cory onto the House floor, let him cast votes, and introduced him to other representatives. One was Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. She lost her legs while serving as a helicopter pilot in the Iraq War, and uses a wheelchair.

Cory befriended an assistant clerk to the Supreme Court. He took Cory into the courtroom (off limits to tourists). Cory met Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who is leading Congressional efforts to increase awareness and support for fighting Duchenne. We also had plenty of time for to visit various monuments and museums.

Cory stands proudly at the US Capitol.

Cory stands proudly at the US Capitol.

More importantly, Cory persuaded both Montana senators and our congressman to co-sponsor re-authorization of the Muscular Dystrophy Care Act. It could provide funding and support for further research and development of treatments, therapies and a cure that could help save not only his own life, but those of nearly 350,000 boys around the world who have Duchenne.

The trip was paid for entirely by donations from generous, supportive friends and family members, including numerous people from Westport.

Thanks to all who made this trip possible.  Special thanks to Peter Weisman, whose strength, courage and memories are kept alive by his amazing family. Peter continues to inspire boys like my son Cory to fight Duchenne, while enjoying life to the fullest.

(Last year, Dave’s Staples Class of ’79 donated leftover reunion money to help Cory and other boys with Duchenne. To contribute, click here.)  

Cory at the memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Both used wheelchairs; neither was  bound by them.

Cory Stalling at the memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Both used wheelchairs; neither was bound by them.

If your browser does not take you to this video of Cory’s trip, click here.

 

 

 

Cory’s Story

Last week, “06880” reported on the latest viral video: 6-year-old Ethan, a young Westporter with autism whose rendition of “Piano Man” has taken the internet by storm.

But can you make a video go viral — even for a cause as important as saving lives?

Dave Stalling — a Westport native, and father of an 11-year old boy — recently asked himself that question. So he created an emotional, heartfelt YouTube plea about his son. Cory has a fatal disease: Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

“Funny and often silly videos go viral and get the attention of the world,” says Dave. “It may seem naive, or perhaps just a desperate attempt by a desperate father who loves his son. But I hope this more serious video will go viral enough to get the attention of influential, caring people who can make a huge difference and help save the lives of my son, and thousands of boys like him.”

Cory Stalling and his dad, Dave.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease for which there is currently no cure. But researchers are very close to finding effective treatments. Clinical trials are underway, with promising results. However, more money and support is needed.

“My hope is to raise awareness about Duchenne, strengthen support for finding a cure, and help us turn hope into reality,” Dave says. “I’m simply asking people to take 5 minutes of their lives to help boys like my son have full lives.”

Dave, who grew up in Westport and graduated from Staples in 1979 — where his mother still lives — often brings his son here to visit from his home in Montana. Photos in the video show Cory playing at Compo Beach and Sherwood Island, and boating and swimming in Long Island Sound.

Click on the video below — and then share it far and wide. For donation details, click here.