For his back-to-school photo, Doug Penner’s sister Sam, a professional makeup artist, gave the Langley teen a realistic-looking beard. On Sunday, June 7th, he will take part in the annual ride for Doug and others who are living with muscular dystrophy. (Courtesy Cam Penner)

Ride For Doug Muscular Dystrophy fundraiser to proceed

It will be shorter and much of it will be online due to COVID-19 restrictions

This year’s version of the annual Ride For Doug will run along a shorter route, with riders carefully spaced, and instead of a barbecue at the end, there will be a live-streamed video.

Langley’s Doug Penner, 17, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), has been a part of the annual charitable fundraiser that bears his name for 13 years.

This year, with restrictions on large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, pulling off the 14th annual version of the event was going to be a challenge, Dad Cam Penner told the Langley Advance Times.

This year, riders will be asked to gather at a different location, the spacious parking lot of the Colossus Langley theatre complex, and to maintain a minimum two-metre separation at the gathering spot and during the ride.

“A number of people had good ideas” about how to hold the ride after he made a public call for suggestions, Cam said.

READ MORE: Langley-based Ride For Doug turns 10

Scheduled for Sunday, June 7th, it will be a shorter ride, an estimated one hour and 45 minutes compared to the usual two hours and 45 minutes, and there will be no rest stops or food, coffee and water as in previous rides.

“We want to limit the number of people gathered together in parking lots,” Cam explained.

Doug is expected to wrap up his Grade 12 online classes about a week before the event.

He is preparing for a video grad ceremony with no big end-of-school party, something Cam described as “a kick in the teeth.”

“Doug is both immunosuppressed and suffering pre-existing respiratory conditions as a side effect of his Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,” Cam said in a message posted to www.ridefordoug.com.

“Maybe saner parents would bubble wrap him and lock him in his room. But we’re not sane. We’re bikers, and this year’s Ride For Doug is about the closest thing he’s going to get for a grad party.”

There is no registration fee – participants are asked to donate instead at www.RideForDoug.com/donate-now.

READ ALSO: Ride for Doug rekindled on Vancouver Island

In his online message to participants, Cam asks supporters not to attend the get-together at Colossus to avoid crowding.

“We are one of the first charity rides of the year, and we want to set a good example,” Cam said.

Riders and non-riders are encouraged to submit a video greeting for Doug, either recording them in advance or during the ride, and send them to info@RideForDoug.com to be played during the live streamed program.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Langley dad describes the pressures of coping with MS at Ride For Doug

When Doug was diagnosed, his father conceived of the idea for a charity motorcycle ride through the Fraser Valley.

So far, supporters have helped to raise around $250,000 for Muscular Dystrophy Canada through the Ride For Doug, money that has supported research, and funded equipment for muscular dystrophy patients.

According to Muscular Dystrophy Canada, DMD is an inherited disorder. The muscles become weaker as the patient gets older.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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