Ride for Doug ready to roll out of South Langley Church

There’s still time and room to register for a motorcycle ride in honour of a Langley boy with muscular dystrophy, and others with the crippling disease.

Ride For Doug was started in 2007 by Cam Penner, whose son Doug has Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

According to Muscular Dystrophy Canada, DMD is an inherited disorder, which usually affects boys, and is very rare in girls. The muscles become weaker as the boys get older.

With Doug as the inspiration, the ninth annual ride is this Sunday, June 7 and people can register for the ride and/or donate to Muscular Dystrophy Canada by clicking here.

“Doug is, and always will be, my Little Biker,” Cam said on the website. “He was two years old when the shock of a Duchenne muscular dystrophy diagnosis turned our world upside down faster than a high side at Sears Point.”

Sunday’s fundraiser, with registration starting at noon, is a three- to- four-hour ride through the Lower Mainland and starts and ends at South Langley Church, 20098 22nd Ave.

Registration for the ride is $20, but this fee is waived if  participants arrive with $50 or more in donations.

All funds not collected online will be collected on the ride day.

A barbecue following the ride is included for all riders and their passengers, and is by donation for everyone else. Pre-registration is appreciated and can be done so online by clicking here.

“It is very stressful cooking for 300 to 400 people,” Cam said. “I’d rather people sign up and not show up, than not sign up because they aren’t positive.”

Doug Penner is the inspiration behind the annual Ride For Doug fundraiser supporting Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Twelve-year-old Doug has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. – Theresa Wiebe Photography

The ride is all about raising funds and awareness to help those living with muscular dystrophy, and their families.

There will be prizes for the top fundraising riders, and donations above $20 are eligible for tax receipts from Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

Use Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s online donation system to track your fundraising.

Twelve-year-old Doug is “doing well, for the shape he is in,” Cam said.

But muscular dystrophy is slowing him down, and stealing his strength and endurance.

“He is still more mobile than most of his peers his age, but we are in the transitional years,” Cam said.

If things do not change, Doug will be entering the wheelchair years.

“We have the greatest support team at BCCH [B.C. Children’s Hospital], and together we are doing all they can to keep him mobile,” Cam said.

Doug is currently enrolled in a new drug study, but Cam cautioned that is too soon to know how well this is working.

When Cam started the ride, his son had been diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy for a couple of years already.

“I really was feeling the need to show him some support,” Cam said. “Bikers are very charitable people, and they’ll come out to ride in support of a great many things. It seemed like a good fit.”

The inaugural year brought out 17 riders and Cam was floored by the experience.

“Knowing that people are in support of your family’s cause is one thing,” Cam said. “Riding with you in support is quite a different emotional boost.”

As the years passed there have been many highlights.

Cam said most of his fondest memories revolve around watching riders, many of whom see each other only at this ride, come together and bond.

“One year, Doug couldn’t have been more than six or seven, and he was having this in depth conversation with a rider about the technical aspects of his bike,” Cam recalled. “They were discussing the pros and cons of a plastic versus a metal gas tank.”

This particular rider has been out for each and every ride.

“At any rate, by the end of the conversation, Doug had a genuine invitation to go hang out his garage and check out all the other bikes,” Cam said.

Through the mirrors of his own bike, the emotion Cam gets from watching a chain of bikes pull out of a parking lot, and seeing the show of support stretching miles down the road, is indescribable.

“You have to have 100 riders come and ride for you, with you, and behind you and your family to get it,” he added.

Another highlight is sharing the journey with those who have gone ahead.

One regular rider lost his son to muscular dystrophy a few years back and in the first years of the ride, he rode for his son.

In the last few years he rides in his son’s memory.

“The roads of Langley are paved with tears on those days,” Cam said.

Ride For Doug has extended beyond Langley’s borders when a rider from Vancouver Island took up the cause, accepted Cam’s challenge, and started his own satellite Ride For Doug near Victoria.

“Doug and I rode over to join in,” Cam said. “That experience took the support to the next level.”

A second Vancouver Island ride is planned for Aug. 23. Watch for details on www.ridefordoug.com, after the Langley ride is finished.

With the ride just days away, Cam and his son are ready for the days, weeks, and months that lie ahead.

“I need to confess that I’m a bit of a wimp. DMD is a scary disease to take in all at once. We learn about what we need to know to live with today, and plan for tomorrow,” Cam said. “But there is a lot about the future that I’m just not ready for.”

The family’s support team from Muscular Dystrophy Canada, and the neuromuscular team at BCCH do a “phenomenal job of making sure we know what we need to know, but helping us absorb things at a manageable rate,” Cam said.

“I’ve also learned that it doesn’t really matter how good I am at arranging the ride. I have a team of friends, relatives, and others who really rally around us every year to pull this off,” Cam said. “Ride For Doug is a success because of them. Doug has provided the cause, and the community has provided the support.”

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