It was always Cam Penner's dream that the Langley-based Ride for Doug fundraiser would multiply.
Well, it officially has. The first-ever Vancouver Island ride was held recently, with Cam and the ride's namesake Doug both participating in the 110-kilometre, two-and-a-half hour trek through back roads around Langford and the southern portion of the Island.
"I'm excited, and if you want to see really excited, you should talk to Doug," said Cam, the father of a 10-year-old boy who was diagnosed at age two with a rare, debilitating, and always-fatal Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
For the past seven years, Doug's father Cam and upwards of a hundred of their closest friends and complete strangers come together every June to host the Ride for Doug - in his son's honour - a motorcycle ride and barbecue dinner that serves as a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
"For several years now, I have had a dream that I have not shared with many. The dream was that, one day, Ride for Doug would multiply. I envision sharing the support that Ride for Doug brings to our family with others, as rides spring up around the world," Cam said.
"Muscular dystrophy recognizes no borders, so why should our compassion and support? I dream that one day, riders in every country on every continent will take to the roads one day a year. They will ride boldly, engines thundering in defiance to muscular dystrophy - telling the world that together we stand united with the families across all the continents," Dad elaborated. Now, the Walnut Grove father is expressing his gratitude to the Langford firefighter who organized the new poker-run style ride, and who made that dream a reality.
"That was a lot of fun," Cam said, noting the small barbecue after allowed them to get to better know the Island organizer, Langford's deputy fire chief Kerry Zado, who vowed to host another Ride for Doug in 2014.
Zado first met the Penners at a Muscular Dystrophy awards event in October 2012, where Cam and Doug presented a series of honours on behalf of the national charity.
Zado followed up a few months later, asking a lot of questions, then informing Cam he was going to organize a local ride.
Since Cam and Doug were free, the bike lovers chose to attend the inaugural Island event.
"Doug had a blast," Cam said. "He loved it. He was very impressed that someone would go and do this."
While Zado promised Doug he'd increase next year's attendance from four to 12, the youngster turned to him - and in all seriousness - said "no." Doug insisted, instead, that Zado have 25 riders for the 2014 ride.
Cam said he and Zado couldn't help but laugh at the young boy's demand.
"But the gauntlet has been thrown down. We'll see what comes," Cam said.
A few family and friends around the world have held their own rides in Doug's honour in past.
But they've always been individual riders going out on or around ride-day.
He applauded Zado for taking the concept a step further and growing it into a community-wide event on the Island.
Cam noted that firefighters' hearts are in the fight against muscular dystrophy, and this seemed to be a natural fit.
"Yes, sometimes I dream big," Cam said, "but with your help and the money and awareness you raised, we are one step closer [to defeating muscular dystrophy forever]," he said, adding that a cousin in Brazil is now threatening to organize a ride there.
Cam and Doug don't expect to be attending that one.
@ Copyright 2013