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$4.8 Million and counting….

Shad’s 44th annual golf tournament raises $175,000 for Muscular dystrophy

Since 1973, Shad’s R&R Golf Tournament has supported Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s efforts to improving the quality of life for the tens of thousands of Canadians with neuromuscular disorders and taking the lead in research for the discovery of therapies and cures.

This year, more than  200 participants from all sectors of the automotive aftermarket took part in a day of golf, dinner, and prizes with all proceeds going to Muscular Dystrophy Canada. The 44th annual Shad’s R&R for muscular dystrophy raised $175,000, bringing the total money raised since its inception to $4.8 million.

The proceeds from this golf tournament have been invested in world-class research projects that are helping to answer questions about neuromuscular disease and finding ways to improve the medical care and quality of life for the young children that are affected by these conditions. For the first time in history we are seeing new treatments and clinical trials that show incredible potential to slow or reverse the progression of some of the 160 different types of neuromuscular disorders. Now more than ever, people with neuromuscular disorders are living longer and more empowered lives.

All of this would not be possible without the ground breaking research taking place throughout Canada and beyond. This research would not be possible without donors and supports, like Shads, who continue to demonstrate incredible generosity.A very heartfelt thank you to the organizing committee including David, Keith Brad, Marilyn, Samantha and everyone involved. Your dedication to this cause is evident and your dedication so greatly appreciated.

Read the Bissonnette Family Story

Our superhero Malik, as his favourite superhero Batman.

Our superhero Malik, as his favourite superhero Batman.

As a Fire Fighter, I have seen people face life changing moments daily. As a father, you are never prepared when they happen in your home, to your children. You remember that look of pain, fear, shock and disbelief. I never thought it would happen to us.

Today, I am sharing with you my story about our son, Malik. Last March, Natasha & I heard the hardest news parents can ever receive. Malik was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is an inherited neuromuscular disorder which usually affects boys. It makes muscle cells weak, and they gradually break down over time. And as of today, there is still no cure.

It’s not easy to start to see Malik slow down. Just as other kids his age are speeding up, we’re having to prepare for life at a different pace. I cannot describe the terror we felt when we found out Malik had Duchenne. Since Duchenne is hereditary, we realized our youngest son, Gabriel, could also be affected. We could barely sleep, thinking about the potential outcome. Thankfully, those results came back negative, Gabriel was in the clear.

Malik is no different than any 5-year-old. He loves to run and play, whether around our family cottage, swimming in the lake, or playing in the park. Malik is always discovering. He loves to pretend to cut the lawn on his electric John Deere mower or to dream of adventures with his absolute favorite thing, Thomas the Train!

Malik dressing up as another one of his favourite heroes, a Fire Fighter.

Malik dressing up as another one of his favourite heroes, a Fire Fighter.

I can’t put into words how hard it is to know that Malik will have to grow up faster than other kids. But, because of your generosity, families like ours are able to receive the support we need, leaving Malik to focus on just being a kid for now. Thank you for all that you do.

Thankfully, just like you, Natasha and I discovered Muscular Dystrophy Canada! After Malik’s teacher and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario referred us, we reached out and their support and reassurance have made all the difference to our family. Muscular Dystrophy Canada has shown us that there is a path forward, and we know that they’ll be with us every step of the way.

With the weather improving, Malik is excited to shed his bulky snowsuit and boots to get outside to play! The warm weather, breezy shorts, and sneakers make it easier for Malik to move a little faster, helping him forget the invisible force trying to slow him down. Your gift today means that the support and services offered by Muscular Dystrophy Canada are there for Malik, and our family, every time we need them. Thank you.

Since becoming a Fire Fighter, I was aware of the special place that Muscular Dystrophy Canada held in the hearts of departments across this country, but it wasn’t until after Malik’s diagnosis that the enormous impact that Fire Fighters make became clear. What had begun as a department tradition now turned into a family one, with a yearly goal to raise more money than ever before.

I was a bit nervous to share Malik’s news with the department, but when I did, the place went off like a fire cracker! The department rallied around our family, the whole department pledged to renew their commitments and help out as much as they could. It amazed me to see this group of people become such a tight knit family. Our little family of four continues to grow.

My beautiful family. Natasha and I with Malik and Gabriel

My beautiful family. Natasha and I with Malik and Gabriel

Since the diagnosis, we have been on a rollercoaster of highs and lows. The incredible support and generosity of our friends and families has been overwhelming. It hit me the hardest as my department suited up in full gear to walk with our family in the Walk for Muscular Dystrophy, in the pouring rain and all.

As we become more involved with Muscular Dystrophy Canada, one thing is clear, it is people like YOU who provides the ongoing support that will help Malik keep going, and give us the strength to never stop searching for a cure.

I hope we can count on you once again. Along with the support of our family and friends, your generous support of Muscular Dystrophy Canada keeps us motivated. Knowing that there is a whole community of people pulling for us, makes each day a little easier.

On behalf of every family searching for hope, thank you. Thank you for supporting all of the families and superheroes like our Malik, who will face new challenges every day of his life. Your support means we won’t have to face them alone.


                                                              Patrick Bissonnette, Father and volunteer Fire Fighter


P.S. – Over 3,500 boys are born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy every year. Your donation helps to empower them to live an independent life and fund new research in the relentless search for a cure.

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Adaptive Outdoors: Cecile Buhl takes to the Mountains

Cecile Buhl at Grassy

Cecile Buhl at Grassy Lake

The last two outdoor experiences I had were very different from each other. The first was one of speed and freedom while the second was one of wondrous beauty. My first adventure brought me to Grassy Lakes in Canmore. I was going to try a piece of new adaptive equipment. It was a rainy cool day and it looked as though we were socked in. My team for the day Jamie from Rocky Mountain Adaptive Sports Centre ( RMASC ) and Sonya, a friend and Sherpa, suggested that we go for coffee and a pastry while we see if the rain would blow through. Luckily, it did. I was very determined to use this equipment and would have been extremely disappointed to go home without following through. We went back to the site and prepared to go uphill to Grassy Lake. We went up at a good pace, but the real speed would be coming back to the parking lot.

The 3 wheeled Park Explorer was a nice change from the Trailrider because it gave me the chance to navigate and move around some of the objects that normally I would have to roll over. The trail was wide and relatively bump free, perfect for the Park Explorer. As we got to the top we enjoyed the clear still “lake” – more like a pool – for a few moments. It was sunny and warm now so we took it all in. Now was the time I was waiting for. I wanted to ride down the hill as fast as I could. As we started, I had to feel how the equipment would move, but it didn’t take me long to feel assured. The breaks were solid and that was all I cared about at this moment. I started to roll and Jamie was guiding me at first, but soon I was travelling too fast for him to keep up and I was on my own. He was not far, just in case I got into trouble. I did slow down eventually because my caution overtook my need for speed. I was hooting and hollering having a great time. Needless to say, the parking lot came up far too fast, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. It seemed the people watching had the same reaction.

My second adventure was not as adrenaline pumped as the first, but it still brought out a lot of emotion. Three participants and a whole lot of volunteers, guiding a Trailrider, were going to make the trek to Larch Valley in Lake Louise. We left from Moraine Lake lodge and started our ascent that would eventually level out to the valley. It was a cold day for me, but had on a lot of layers and was settled in sleeping- bag- like – sleeve set up for the Trailrider. After a short safety lesson, we took our group photos and were off. It took us a good two hours to get to the lunch spot. The sights were amazing and even though the larches had lost most of their needles by now it was nonetheless spectacular. I had no idea the larches were so dense in this valley.

Cecile Buhl Larch Valley

Cecile Buhl With Team Members at Larch Valley

We spent our lunch sitting in an alpine meadow looking at the valley with the snow-covered mountains along the horizon. Between one of the high valleys perched a glacier with a clear blue hue that showed how dense and cold it was. We continued to a windswept plain with stunted trees and pelting ice rain as we trekked to the lake at the base of one of the mountain ranges. I would have taken it all in had I not been pelted and blinded by the ice flying into my eyes. But, it was worth it! As we turned and shot our final group picture at our destination we all cheered and sat in wonder again of what was around us. It was truly a spectacular day even through the snow, cool temperatures, and a cold I had earlier contracted. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Cecile Buhl


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Independence Through Innovation

A pilot program providing assistive technology to youth


Thanks to rapidly evolving technology, particularly in the world of gaming, home automation and environmental aids, assistive devices are more accessible and more useful than ever. They help improve quality of life exponentially for young people with neuromuscular disorders.

Removing barriers to simple tasks with assistive technologies

Tasks such as opening doors, switching on lights, accessing phone calls and answering emails aren’t ‘simple’ for those with a neuromuscular disorder. Assistive Technology can remove the barriers from these small chores.

Lise Bleau, an Occupational Therapist at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation has seen the results firsthand. “This program is so exciting: it will allow children and teens to be successful at doing things, using something perceived by themselves and their peers as being very cool.”

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The Story of Jon Jans

Jon First Day of SchoolMy story is much like many Canadians, perhaps not that different from yours.  My parents immigrated from The Netherlands in the 1950s, settling on a dairy farm. We grew up going to school, working on the farm, enjoying 4H and being part of the fabric of rural community.

With the physical strains of farm life, I never had to wonder about my mother’s aches and pains at the end of a long day. Struggling to rise from her chair, the complex realities of myotonic dystrophy had yet to dawn on me.

As a volunteer Fire Fighter, I became aware of Muscular Dystrophy Canada and their work with Canadian Fire Fighters, from coast to coast. However, my department had never really been involved as fundraising was less of a priority than firefighting.

So, what changed for the Fire Fighters in the village of Martintown? Well, it became personal.

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