Friday, March 17, 2023, 12:05 p.m
Young Man Living With Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Teams With Creator Of World Famous ‘CSI’ Franchise To Share Story Of Courage, Strength And Perseverance
Suneel Ram, a 26-year-old Western New York resident living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), has released an inspirational book he co-wrote with Anthony E. Zuiker, the famous creator of the TV series “CSI.” The book seeks to help educate young people and build awareness about the genetic disease and how it dramatically affects the lives of people living with the disease.
Ram’s debut book, Soaring, A Story of Courage, is a heartfelt story of courage, strength, pain and the social isolation he faced throughout his life. It is part of a series of books that Zuiker has co-authored with young authors to create awareness of critical issues facing young people today. These graphic novels tell stories that address major challenges facing today’s youth, including suicide, body image, and bullying.
As a graphic novel, Soaring speaks directly to a young audience. It is perfectly suited to the honest and inspiring story written by Ram. Readers will come away with an understanding of this disease and a deeper understanding of how people facing long-term illness live their lives with grace and hope.
“Soaring” is based on months of personal interviews between Zuiker, Ram and his family. This beautifully illustrated graphic novel details Ram’s pain, heroism, hope and happiness to encourage others to overcome their barriers. Ram shares how living with this debilitating disease is nothing compared to the excruciating pain of loneliness and being perceived as different from others.
Ram describes his challenges, from not being able to play like other kids to his teenage years marred by broken bones and extreme muscle weakness. He takes the reader through a lifetime of struggles, each filled with determination and courage.
When Ram is denied treatment in a process that could prolong his life, he doesn’t give up; when a professor gave an inappropriate description of DMD, Sunil turned to the class to give them the real facts. The book celebrates Ram’s greatest achievements despite so many obstacles, such as graduating from high school and attending college.
Suneel Ram (Submitted Photo)
“Writing this book and putting the depth of my experiences on paper has been challenging, but I hope my journey will inspire others to lean on their spirituality, friends and family when facing chronic illness,” he said. “I believe we all serve a special purpose in helping each other grow and being there for each other, and I hope this book will help able-bodied teenagers gain more empathy for their peers who are growing up with disabilities.” This book is a testament to my family and friends who have helped me continue to pursue my dreams. This book is also dedicated to my deepest desire that one day researchers will find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.”
The book includes a resource page for parents that provides information about DMD to discuss with children by Dr. Niera Gulati, Ram’s mother and a family medicine physician. She is the founder of Suneel’s Light Foundation, has traveled the world to advance medical research for DMD, and has lobbied politicians and healthcare providers on the importance of medical research and funding for DMD. The foundation has provided funding to leading genetic researchers.
“Suneel is an extraordinary young man with an inspiring life story. He puts the letter ‘C’ in courage and the letter ‘S’ in exaltation,” Zuiker said. “He changed my life by seeing the world through his humble lens. I hope his graphic novel does the same for every reader on the planet.”
Zuiker is best known as an award-winning television writer, television producer and author. He is the creator of the world famous series “CSI: From the crime scene”. He has produced all five installments of the CSI franchise: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, CSI: Cyber and CSI: Vegas. He also created the murder mystery show “Whodunnit?” and the web series “Cybergeddon,” for which he was awarded a Pioneer Award from the International Digital Emmy Awards. He also presented an exciting series on BlackBoxTV for YouTube. He is also the acclaimed author of several books including “Mr. CSI: How A Vegas Dreamer Made A Killing In Hollywood” and “One Body At A Time,” his personal memoir.
Zuiker is co-founder, publisher and creative director of Zuiker Press, which publishes Soaring. Zuiker Press was founded by Michelle and Anthony Zuiker to protect the voices of young authors.
The idea to start an “issues-based” literary house came from Michelle’s 17 years of teaching elementary school and the challenges the couple faced every day with their own children and the children of their friends. It works with and publishes young authors who have chosen to tell their personal stories and be ambassadors for their cause.
The mission of each book published is for readers to learn from the pain and heroism of our authors and find hope, change and happiness in their own lives. Additional resources and tips for parents are included in the back of each book and on its website. The 10 graphic novels in the stand-alone series published to date tackle difficult issues affecting young people’s lives, such as autism, activism, suicide, school shootings, bullying, divorce, racism and body image through the experiences of the peer author. They are designed to help students cope with difficult circumstances and encourage public conversation about the topics in a positive and educational resource.
Zuiker Press graphic novels are in over 200 schools nationwide, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is the second largest school district in the world.
“Soaring” contains 87 pages of vivid and engaging animation designed by Fantoons Animation Studios. The book is distributed by Simon and Schuster and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million, Bookshop, IndieBound, Indigo, and several local bookstores to be announced soon. It retails for $12 to $15, depending on hardcover or paperback, and is available as an e-book.
DMD is the deadliest genetic disease of childhood, affecting mostly young boys, regardless of ethnicity, and leading to death from respiratory or heart failure by their mid-20s. In addition to the physical challenges associated with this disease, people with DMD suffer from learning disabilities, social isolation and behavioral problems. Symptoms usually appear in male children before the age of 6 and may be visible in infancy. Eventually, this weakness spreads to the arms, neck, and other areas. Later symptoms may include abnormal bone development leading to skeletal deformities, including curvature of the spine. Due to the progressive deterioration of the muscles, there is a loss of movement, which eventually leads to paralysis.
“Soaring, A Story of Courage” (Submitted Photo)
The “ascension” was made possible thanks to the financial support of Suneel’s Light, a local foundation that supports critical research to cure DMD and to raise public awareness of the genetic disease that is named after Ram. Both the foundation and Zuiker are working to raise additional funding from other foundations, medical institutions, individual philanthropists and corporations so that they can publish more copies of the book so that it can be donated to school districts and non-profit organizations as in Western New York as well as throughout the county. Those interested in supporting the initiative can contact Zuiker Press at zuikerpress.com.
For Sunil’s Light
Suneel’s Light Foundation was established in 2002 to fund critical research into medical treatments and a cure for Duchenne. The volunteer board is comprised of leading local professionals in medicine, law, business, academia and communications. Currently, more than 20,000 children in the United States suffer from this fatal disease and more than 100,000 worldwide, with a statistically higher number of identified cases in Western New York than the national average. For more information about Suneel’s Light or DMD, visit www.suneelslight.org or www.Facebook.com/suneelslight.
About Zuiker Press
Founded by CSI franchise creator Anthony Zuiker and his wife Michelle, Zuiker Press is a publishing company dedicated to protecting the voices of young authors. Its mission is to address topics that affect all children directly or indirectly, and to empower all children everywhere with the knowledge that they are not alone. For more information about Zuiker Press and its inspirational book series, visit zuikerpress.com.