The Nanaimo Safeway Walk for Muscular Dystrophy started out simple. Dwain King, my co-chair from the Central Island region of the BC/Yukon Fire Fighters Advisors group decided that since Victoria was the only current Walk for Muscular Dsytrophy event on Vancouver Island he would organize one a little farther north. We immediately jumped on board to support Dwain. I somewhat mistakenly sent out an email to my entire address book (over 500 recipients) and was overwhelmed with the immediate support I received in the form of donations to complete the 5 KM walk.
I figured I had better raise the bar since I was nearing $1,000, so I announced if I fundraised $1,000 I would complete the Walk for Muscular Dsytrophy in full turn out gear, which is Fire Fighters protective clothing consisting of coat, pants, boots and helmet, adding a weight of approx. 25 pounds.
Well I surpassed the $1,000 mark so figured I had better step it up a notch! If I could reach $1,500 I offered to wear the SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) on my back, which accounts for an additional 32 pounds. Walk coordinator Dwain King from Ladysmith Fire Rescue took it one step further saying that if he raised $2,000 he would complete the Walk “on air”, which means he would walk the entire 5KM wearing the Fire Fighter mask and breathing only the air from his self contained breathing apparatus carried on his back.
My sister, Cathy Ferguson King (no relation to Dwain) who is a true competitor and a true advocate for Muscular Dystrophy Canada, stepped in and said if she raised more than Dwain and I, she would ALSO complete the Walk in full turn out gear with an SCBA and ON AIR! The difference being Cathy is NOT a Fire Fighter! She does not normally wear this gear and has never used a self contained breathing apparatus.
Well she did it!! She raised more funds than Dwain and I, and the end result is that all three of us completed the entire 5KM Walk in full gear and on air.
The on air portion of the challenge was to set a level of difficulty that isn’t done by the average person and to say that we were willing to push ourselves to new limits in order to raise awareness and funds for Muscular Dystrophy Canada!
Point being the ever increasing dependency on respiratory assistance for those affected by neuromuscular disorders. We challenged ourselves to complete a physically demanding event while relying on only supplied air; however those with repiratory challenges rely on such systems on a regular basis. It is an opportunity for us, and others, to realize what they go through on a day to day basis and realize that we take for granted the simple things in life. We challenged ourselves for two hours; our friends affected by muscular dystrophy do this daily!
The Nanaimo Safeway Walk for Muscular Dystrophy was not only a success in fundraising, but a success in awareness and self reflection. I had no right to say this was going to be difficult or too much of a challenge to complete because we were fortunate enough to be able to walk and breathe for those who can’t on their own.
Team Party Hardy total raised – $8,500!
Cam Ferguson is the Deputy Fire Chief, Cowichan Bay Fire Rescue; Chair – BC/Yukon Firefighter Advisory Committee; and Firefighter Co-Advisor, Central Vancouver Island.