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Annual walk for muscular dystrophy returning to Vancouver Island

The Walk & Roll for Muscular Dystrophy Canada will be hosted in the Comox Valley
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Jayden Hargreaves (middle), 18, is this year’s ambassador for the Vancouver Island Walk & Roll for MDC at Courtenay’s Airpark on Sept. 23. Photo courtesy of Denise Hargreaves

The annual Vancouver Island Walk & Roll for Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) is approaching and this time, the decade-long tradition will be held in the Comox Valley.

Scheduled for Sept. 23 at Courtenay’s Airpark, running from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the walk aims to both raise funds and increase awareness for muscular dystrophy (MD).

Diagnosed with this genetic disorder at a young age, Jayden Hargreaves, 18, is the ambassador for this year’s event.

“(The walk is all about) getting together with my friends, family, and everyone else, to support this cause all together,” said Jayden. “This year is going to be a really big one and there’s lots of things planned. I’m very excited about it.”

Muscular dystrophy is a group of more than 30 different forms of muscle diseases. Over time, people with MD will experience muscle weakness and decreased mobility. They may also have a hard time breathing, swallowing, as well as standing.

Typically diagnosed in childhood, muscular dystrophy predominantly occurs in boys, affecting 14 individuals per 100,000.

As opposed to multiple sclerosis (MS), which is often mistaken for MD, muscular dystrophy is a progressive condition that can be life-threatening.

At present, there is no cure for this disease.

“Years ago, boys and girls with muscular dystrophy, just didn’t make it to graduation because the medical advances weren’t there yet,” said Jayden’s father Robert Hargreaves. “It’s a pretty devastating condition.”

However, thanks to medical breakthroughs in the last decades, new treatments and drugs can now help keep the disease at bay.

Crowdfunding collected at walks like these across the nation has contributed to these advancements.

Rahul Rajanala, a community fundraising officer at Muscular Dystrophy Canada, stated that the money raised during the upcoming walk will be allocated for treatment research, advocacy efforts, and the acquisition of essential equipment like wheelchairs and powerchairs for people living with this condition.

“We call it the Walk & Roll because we’re walking with people in wheelchairs, crutches, power chairs, who have any sort of muscular disorder,” said Rajanala.

More than just raising money, Rajanala and the Hargreaves put emphasis on the community-building quality of these marches.

Despite dealing with everyday challenges including accessibility and keeping up with his social life, Jayden made a strong community for himself and turned what many would consider a disheartening reality into a positive experience.

“Just in the last two years, we found out about these walks and we met a few people with muscular dystrophy,” said Jayden. “Since I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve met amazing people along the way. It has been great meeting so many awesome people who are fighting the same cause. I know that I’m not alone.”

Enthusiastic about this year’s event, Jayden invites everyone to come walk and learn more about MD.

“It’s a really family-friendly event where anyone can come and say hello,” said Jayden. “We have a very awesome community so bring your family and friends. It’s gonna be a great time.”

To donate, register, or learn more about the event, visit walkrollmdc.ca.

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