Doug Penner was two years old when his world — and his family’s — was turned upside down.
He was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscular degeneration and weakness. It is one of nine types of muscular dystrophy, according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Unlike other kids at school, Penner is unable to run or jump but he does love riding on the back of his dad’s motorcycle.
Cam Penner, Doug’s dad, says he has the “roaring thunder of a biker’s resolve,” and started Ride for Doug, an annual motorcycle ride that raises money to help find a cure for muscular dystrophy.
“Doug is, and always will be, my little biker,” Cam says in a statement on the Ride for Doug website.
The Penners live in Langley, which is where one Ride for Doug takes place. This year, it was on June 2 and featured 70 bikes and 90 riders. It raised $28,000.
The Vancouver Island edition of the motorcycle ride is soon approaching, slotted for Sunday, July 7.
Kerry Zado, a former Langford firefighter started with the department in 1989 and has been working to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy Canada since then. Firefighters have been involved in raising funds and awareness for Muscular Dystrophy Canada since 1954. Zado participated in the Langley ride and will be in the Island Ride for Doug as well.
“I’ve met so many people affected by muscular dystrophy that I just continue to fight in retirement years,” Zado said.
The funds raised go towards advocacy, finding a cure and better serving people affected by the disorder. An equipment program helps provide people with muscular dystrophy with splints or wheelchairs. Funding also goes towards home renovations to help individuals stay at home longer as opposed to being institutionalized.
“Right now we’re trying to get the province to cover a drug for a certain strain of muscular dystrophy,” Zado said.
Doug, and his family will come to the Island for the ride and Zado said they’re hoping other riders in the area will raise some pledges, ride and enjoy a barbecue afterwards.
The ride will start in Langford and will take motorcyclists up to the Chemainus/Ladysmith area and back, using back roads most of the way.
A minimum donation of $20 per person is needed to participate, but Zado said they’re hoping riders will raise more.
Zado said in past years, up to 36 bikes have participated in the Vancouver Island edition of Ride for Doug, but they’re looking to grow that number.
This year, he’s hoping $5,000 will be raised.
“One day I’d like to see the $25,000 but right now I’m trying to build the ridership first,” Zado said. “I mean $5,000 would be an awesome feat for us to do this year.”
The ride takes place on Sunday, July 7 with registration beginning at 10 a.m. at Weaver’s Leather in Langford located at 2924 Jacklin Rd. Kickstands will be up at 11 a.m.
There will be a barbecue and door prizes following the ride.
More information about Ride for Doug can be found here.
Donations for the Ride for Doug Vancouver Island edition can be received here.