Doug Penner can now ride up and down in his home. (Allison Penner photo)

Lift brings new freedoms to Langley boy’s life

The 11th annual Langley cruise on June 4 will help those living with muscular dystrophy.

New freedoms have opened up for 14-year-old Doug Penner, following the installation of a stairlift in the Langley boy’s home earlier this month.

Last year, the 10th annual Ride for Doug raised $12,000 towards a lift system, but it took almost a year and much more money to make it a reality, said Doug’s father Cam Penner.

“Doug is happily moving up and down on his own. It’s a whole set of freedoms that have been unlocked for him again,” Dad added. “He calls it the People Mover in honour of Disney World’s slowest ride.”

Doug is a Grade 9 student at Langley Christian School, who was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) at the age of two.

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

Eleven years ago now, his father started a fundraising run, called Ride For Doug, in honour of his son and to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC).

Through the first decade of this Langley-based motorcycle cruise, supporters have helped raise in excess of $150,000 for the cause.

At last year’s ride, organizers threw in an alternate option of giving to help fund Doug’s lift. They came through, and with the $12,000 raised at the ride, a grant from MDC, and some serious saving, the family was finally able to order the customized lift, which has become so imperative to Doug.

His dad elaborated.

Last year, the week before Ride For Doug, they received word that the medical study Doug was being cancelled. That summer saw his last IV infusion of a drug that his family is convinced was making a difference.

And consequently, this last year Doug has lost the strength to climb the stairs on his own.

While his family continues to battle for drugs to help Doug, the lift has been life changing.

“Thanks to Ride For Doug supporters and a grant from Muscular Dystrophy Canada Doug is now able to go up and down the stairs in his own home. Thank you!” Cam said.

In addition to the fundraising aspect of this annual ride, Doug’s dad said Ride For Doug has made a massive difference in letting his family know that they are not on this journey on their own.

Now, their family has a lot on the go this year, including the graduation of Doug’s older sister Sam.

“The ride will happen – Doug would kill me if it didn’t,” Cam insisted, but noted some of his normal preparations have fallen by the wayside, including seeking sponsorships.

To find out more about this year’s ride, how to register for the ride and or the subsequent barbecue, or even how to simply donate to the cause, people can visit www.RideForDoug.com.

The ride leaves the South Langley Church, 20098 22nd Ave., at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 4. Close to 100 riders are expected to take part.

As well, organizers of the fourth annual Ride for Doug on Vancouver Island are already gearing up for that event.

That event is set for September, and information will be available on the website.