The annual Walk to Defeat Duchenne, the signature May event of Jesse’s Journey, gets underway this morning in Springbank Gardens.
The walk, part of Jesse’s Journey’s Defeat Duchenne Month, is a chance for Londoners to come together and raise funds for Duchenne muscular dystrophy research.
“It’s parents of Duchenne children, it’s families, it’s friends, it’s co-workers, they all come out and walk,” said Sue McKittrick of Jesse’s Journey, the charity named after Jesse Davidson who passed away in 2009, in an interview with AM980 late last month.
“It’s an 8¼ km, route. If you do that three times, you have 33 km, and that just happens to be what John Davidson walked every day for 286 days straight when he walked across Canada.”
McKittrick says some take the shorter walk, but others, including many Duchenne families, do the full 33k.
“They finish with sore feet and sore muscles, and they are just determined. They are going to do it no matter what,” McKittrick said. “It’s a great day for the families to come out and bond, and it’s a nice healthy exercise day for anyone else who wants to take part and collect pledges and walk with us for a cure.”
Registration for the walk runs from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., with opening ceremonies at 9:45 a.m. The walk officially gets underway at 10 a.m. A hot-dog, hamburger, and pizza lunch is being provided from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. More information about the walk can be found here.
So far, this year’s walk has already raised just over $56,000 of its $100,000 goal. All of the money raised goes toward funding research projects devoted to defeating Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
“I’ve been here almost 10 years now, and it’s unbelievable the change that has happened,” McKittrick said. “John [Davidson] talks about way back when, when he did his walk 20 years ago, there really was nothing going on in Duchenne research, and he needed to start to fund research to make things happen.”
Last year the London-based charity celebrated its 20th anniversary, and announced $1.2-million in funding projects around the world. According to its website, Jesse’s Journey has funded over $7-million in research projects for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
The charity helped fund several projects last year, including promising research from Dr. Louise Rodino-Klapac in Columbis, Ohio, Dr. Volker Straub and Dr. George Dickson, both in the U.K., and Dr. Daniel Skuk in Quebec, McKittrick said.
“There are, I don’t know the number, but every year there are more and more research projects that we hear about that come to us for funding, and the Research Funding Advisory Committee has to decide which ones are the most promising, and which ones we can fund.”
The Research Funding Advisory Committee, which makes all the funding decisions for Jesse’s Journey, is made up of scientists and Duchenne parents, McKittrick said.
“That’s coming up again this year in June, I believe is when they make the decision,” McKittrick said. “So we will know again in June what new research we’re able to find this year.”