Thirty-eight motorcycles and 46 riders braved damp conditions and slippery roads to take part in the 12th annual Ride For Doug charity motorcycle ride in Langley to raise money and awareness for Muscular Dystrophy on Sunday.
About 250 people showed up for the post-ride by-donation barbecue.
Usually the ride sees 80-100 motorcycles turning out, and the BBQ typically feeds 275-300 people.
The ride takes its name from Doug Penner who was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) when he was two.
Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disorder which causes muscles in the body to gradually decline and weaken.
People with DMD are unable to manufacture dystrophin, a protein that shapes muscles and keeps them functioning properly.
Over time, people with the disorder may lose the ability to walk, speak and ultimately breathe.
For some the disorder is fatal. There is presently no known cure or effective treatments.
Over the first 11 years the ride has raised over $220,000 for Muscular Dystrophy Canada, as well as $13,000 on a project to put a stair lift in Doug’s house.
This year the ride had a special project of purchasing and accessible vehicle for Doug.
“He has a brand new power wheelchair – but no vehicle to carry it in,” his dad, Cam Penner said.
“His use of it is limited to where he can drive from home. He’s also turning 16 this year, and we will need to adapt a vehicle so that he is capable of driving it.”
Cam Penner praised the riders who showed up despite the rain for demonstrating a “a special kind of crazy” because it was the first rainfall after a dry period like May which brought all the oil dripped on the road to the surface.
“Traction was a concern for the first couple of hours,” he said.
“Potholes filled with water hid their depth, and the tar snakes across the road caused wheels to slither and slip when leaned over in a corner.”
By the time it was over, three motorcycles had broken down and everyone, including Doug, was soaked.
The sun came through the clouds just in time for the ride home.
“These riders came out because they know that Muscular Dystrophy doesn’t take rain days,” Cam Penner said.
“They came out to show their support for Doug and his family. And if that meant getting more than a little bit wet, then that was the price to pay.”
At the post-ride barbecue, Cam Penner described how Doug spent last summer in a wheelchair with a broken leg.
After that he was in and out of hospital while doctors tried to find the source of fluid around his heart and lungs.
“Fortunately, a stent in one of his veins seems to have cleared that up,” Penner said.
During the same time, the family applied for and received Doug’s first power wheelchair. It took nearly eight months.
“We had to fight for and appeal funding requests for several necessary features that were not going to be paid for. With help from Doug’s team of doctors and additional funding from Muscular Dystrophy Canada we managed to provide Doug with the chair he needed.”
This year’s ride raised $16,000, $10,000 for Muscular Dystrophy Canada, and $6,000 to kick off the accessible vehicle campaign.
Fundraising details are available at www.ridefordoug.com/donate-now.