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Riders ready for annual Ride for Doug fundraiser

Nine-year-old Doug Penner checks out Dad Cam
Nine-year-old Doug Penner checks out Dad Cam's motorcycle at the family home in Walnut Grove. Doug, his sister Samantha and mother Allison are gearing up for the June 3 Ride for Doug, a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
— image credit: Natasha Jones/Langley Times

Gentlemen — and ladies — start your engines, please, for the 2012 Ride for Doug.

Doug is the nine-year-old boy whose amazing courage and determination are never more evident than when he dons his motorcycle gear and hops on the back of the motorcycle his dad, Cam, rides in the annual fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

The Walnut Grove boy has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder which prevents the body from manufacturing dystrophin, a protein that shapes the muscles and keeps them functioning normally.

Every hint of a disability vanishes on Doug’s big day which will be held this year on Sunday, June 3.

The event comes after a year that has been difficult for the family.

“Doug was invited to participate in a clinical trial of a new treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This one-year commitment has us visiting BC Children’s Hospital every week for treatment and monitoring,” he said.

It has been a very taxing process, but one where there seems to be some hope for the result, he said.

It involves a double blind study, but bound by a confidentiality agreement to protect the integrity of the study the family is unable to comment.

For now, the attention of Doug, his parents Cam and Allison and sister Samantha is firmly focused on Sunday, June 3, when the sixth annual Ride for Doug takes place.

To register, sign up at www.RideForDoug.com.

Registration begins at noon at South Langley Church, 20098 22 Ave., and the ride leaves at 1 p.m. The day will be capped off at 5:30 p.m. with a barbecue.

The ride will take bikers on a three to four hour ride along a 200 kilometre  route along the back roads of Langley, Abbotsford and Mission, raising awareness and funds for Muscular Dystrophy Canada which uses the funds for research and support.

By making pledges, riders can help boost the $45,000 the ride has raised over the past five years.

“Motorcycling season is upon us, and its time to start planning those weekends. As the weather slowly warms up, it’s time to check the oil and install fresh tires,” said Cam Penner.

“Many bikers plan their weekends around the dozens of group rides that take place each year. Ride For Doug is one of these rides.”

For Cam and Allison, while Doug’s year-long marathon of treatment and testing has been challenging, he continues his very strong and positive outlook on life.

“We refer to him as ‘our medical explorer’ as he is among a very small handful of children worldwide who are involved in studying this new drug,” Cam said.

“He goes into each appointment with a strong sense of humour, and with all the courage a nine-year-old can muster,” his Dad said.

“He doesn’t like all of the blood work, injections and other medical procedures, but he is always able to remind himself of the value of what he is doing, and how he is helping to discover a way to make his, and all those other kids’ muscles work better.  And that knowledge is enough to get him through each week.”

In honour of his courageous spirit, Ride For Doug this year is dedicating the proceeds of the ride to research for a cure.

As in previous years, the barbecue is open to both riders and non-riders alike, although non-riders are asked to make a donation.

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