Doug Penner, with dad Cam and mom Allison, just before the June 2019 edition of the annual ‘Ride For Doug’ got underway. (Langley Advance Times File)

COVID-19 crisis a challenge for annual Ride For Doug Muscular Dystrophy fundraiser

‘Somehow, in some way, we are going to give Doug the celebration he deserves’

Like all high school students, Langley’s Doug Penner has been taking his classes online, and expects to wrap up his studies in “three to four weeks,” according to his dad, Cam Penner.

This is also the year Doug is graduating, and thanks to the coronavirus pandemic that forced his school to close its classrooms, he won’t be getting much in the way of a celebration.

“He is preparing for a video grad ceremony with no big end-of-school party,” Cam commented.

“Talk about a kick in the teeth.”

But, maybe, the annual ride in Doug’s name can still go ahead.

It has been scheduled for June 7th.

If it goes ahead, Cam said the 2020 version of the annual ride will “look a little bit different” because Doug is both immunosuppressed and has a pre-existing respiratory condition.

It will be a challenge, Cam noted, and he has issued a public appeal for suggestions that would allow the event to proceed.

Every year, motorcyclists get together to take part in the annual “Ride for Doug,” the annual charitable fundraiser in support of Doug, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), along with others living with muscular dystrophy.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Langley dad describes the pressures of coping with MS at Ride For Doug

When Doug was diagnosed, his father conceived of the idea for a charity motorcycle ride through the Fraser Valley.

So far, supporters have helped to raise around $250,000 for Muscular Dystrophy Canada through the Ride For Doug, money that has supported research, and funded equipment for muscular dystrophy patients.

“Somehow, in some way, we are going to give Doug the celebration he deserves,” the determined dad said.

“We obviously can’t follow the traditional format, but we are all creative people — we can solve it.”

Cam is looking for ideas on how the ride can proceed, safely.

“I’m not looking for loopholes in rules, but rather different ways to organize so that we can remain safe — but still ride,” he stressed.

READ MORE: Langley-based Ride For Doug turns 10

Cam listed some of the ideas under consideration:

– Park Doug at the end of his driveway for an afternoon so that everybody can ride by and say hi (from 10 feet away).

– Have the Penner family’s bikes ride the route clockwise, while everybody else rides the opposite direction at their own timing. The idea is to have a steady stream of biker waves.

– Publish a route and time with some staging points along the way. Have the lead bike pass each staging point at a scheduled time and have bikes at each staging point join up as the ride goes by.

– Meet in a large lot with an empty spot between each bike for spacing.

Among the challenges, finding parks that are open with sufficient spacing for rest stops and making sure riders are well-distanced every time they stop.

“We want to be a good example of how a motorcycle ride can be socially responsible,” Cam said.

“Maybe we can be the template for everybody else’s fundraising rides.”

Depending on the format, Ride For Doug may need to have a maximum participant cap.

And then, there is the traditional post-ride barbecue, a high point of the event for Doug and his family.

“How can we involve the people who come for the BBQ but don’t own bikes yet? Is this the type of thing that live streams? Would you watch one? ” Cam asked.

“We could have a location along the route that non-riders could set up chairs sufficiently apart and have that be the end location that everyone rides through before dispersing.”

Ideas and suggestions can be shared on the Ride For Doug Facebook Page or by emailing: .

READ ALSO: Ride for Doug rekindled on Vancouver Island

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

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