Ask Board treasurer, Dave Ferguson about his long-term commitment to Muscular Dystrophy Canada and he reasons that it must be something in the family DNA.
“I come from a pedigree of volunteers,” he explains. Born and raised in Scotland, his mother, father and other family members were also community-minded.
In 1981, Ferguson joined the local volunteer fire department in Cowichan Bay, B.C. after moving wife, Barb and kids, Cathy and Cam from Prince George. “Muscular Dystrophy Canada did a presentation for Fire Fighters and I kind of got hooked,” he now admits. He became a Fire Fighter advisor for Central Vancouver Island. Of his supportive wife, Barb, Ferguson says, “She’s a caring person. Her name is first on the pledge sheet.”
Suddenly, when the sons of a Duncan Fire Fighter and a Mesachie Lake Fire Fighter were affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Ferguson became even more invested in the cause.
One of those young men, Adam Sohye, is now Godfather to Ferguson’s seven-year-old grandson, Draysen. Says Ferguson: “It’s special for Barb and I to sit back and watch that relationship develop.”
As her Dad became more involved with Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s clients, Cathy (Draysen’s mum) grew more aware of the neuromuscular disorder and how it affected the clients and their families. At 13, Cathy planned her first fundraising event at the Fire Hall—a 24-hour danceathon. She raised $1,000. “We were always going to the Fire Hall,” she adds, “We look up to Dad. He’s our inspiration.”
With their Dad, working in the banking industry and as a volunteer Fire Fighter and Mum, a registered nurse, both parents’ activities played a large role in how the Ferguson kids viewed the world. Says Cathy: “Our mum worked in a nursing home. It wasn’t weird for us to be around people who were different. It’s okay to be different.”
These days, Cathy’s married to Mike King. She says he “jumped on the passion train with the rest of the family.” Also a volunteer Fire Fighter, Mike’s equally committed to the family cause.
Cathy received the 2013 regional Mary Ann Wickham Volunteer of the Year award. She works part-time and together, she and Mike are raising Koltin, 16, Kalliana, 13, Draysen, 7 and Maddex, 4.
From age 4, Cathy’s brother, Cam, realized he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, too. He became a Fire Fighter and a strong supporter of people with neuromuscular disorders. Says his father: “It warms my heart to see everyone involved with Muscular Dystrophy Canada.” These days he watches as Cathy and Cam make connections with others on the Internet. “Social media allows the ask to spread much more easily,” he explains. “I stepped back to let my son and daughter take the lead.”
In 2012, Cam received Fire Fighter of the Year Award from Muscular Dystrophy Canada. “I don’t host ball tournaments and Walks by myself. I get huge support from family,” he explains, to remove the focus from himself as so many Fire Fighters (and Fergusons) seem to do.
Cam and his wife, Tricia, have two children, Ty, 8, and Danica, 5. “The kids are out to events, ball tournaments and Walks. Muscular Dystrophy Canada is a big part of our family.”
Although they’re close, Cathy and Cam have always enjoyed a friendly rivalry. Last September, when Fire Fighters planned a 5 km walk in full gear for the first-ever Nanaimo Safeway Walk for Muscular Dystrophy, Cathy told her brother, “ ‘I’ll beat you!’ ” and he countered, “‘if, you think you can!’ ” She raised $4,000 to Cam’s $1,500.
“I didn’t expect her to wear the jacket, pants, boots and air pack. That’s between 60 and 70 pounds,” explains Cam, who is both a volunteer Fire Fighter and a Civilian Class Fire Fighter at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt. “She marched side by side with us. It was a proud moment.”
When Cathy and Mike’s son, Koltin participated in the 2012 Great Lake Walk, (a 56 km event around Lake Cowichan held on his 14th birthday) he planned to celebrate the day by raising $1,400. According to his mother, “he raised twice that and blew it out of the water.”
Younger sister, Kalliana, considers Koltin a hero. Yet, she’s a hero in her own right. Five years ago, with plans to shave her hair and raise $50, she raised a whopping $14,600. Before shaving her hair, she dyed it neon pink. And Adam, whom she’s known “forever,” dyed his hair pink, too.
In 2012, Kalliana received the Caring Canadian Award from the Governor General of Canada. Kalliana and her mum also flew to Los Angeles to receive Inspiration awards from an organization that celebrates extraordinary women. In 2011, she received the B.C. Community Award from the provincial Lieutenant Governor. In 2010, Muscular Dystrophy Canada honoured Kalliana with the regional Mary Ann Wickham Volunteer of the Year award and the national Courage To Inspire award.
When it comes to being recognized for performing good deeds, Cathy feels a little uncomfortable. “I’m out of my comfort zone,” says the woman who has inspired her kids to collect empty bottles for drives and participate in annual Walks to raise funds for muscular dystrophy. She admits, “That’s not what it’s about for me. I like to be out there for the good of someone else.”
Brother Cam feels the same way. “It was in our upbringing. We’re not out there to be recognized for what we’re doing,” he explains. “We’ve got this passion to help these people. We’re out there because somebody needs to do it.”
This story and others can be found in the 2013-2014 Annual Report. To read the report, please click here.