Reduce the timing between doses for patients with neuromuscular diseases

Jurisdictions across the country have been following National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendation to put off second doses and prolong the time between the first and second doses of two-shot COVID-19 vaccines to up to four months. However, persons with neuromuscular disorders may have respiratory involvement, require immunotherapy and are particularly vulnerable to severe and life-threatening effects from contracting COVID-19 infection. Partial protection for some of the most vulnerable and high-risk patients in the country from this devastating disease is not acceptable, particularly as the virus and variants surge across the country. Together with neurologists, the Neuromuscular Disease Network for Canada, Jesse’s Journey and GBS-CIDP Canada, MDC submitted a letter to Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Dr. Quach-Thanh, Chair of NACI and each provincial health minister urging them to further nuance the list of those who should be prioritized for their second dose by including adults affected by neuromuscular disease.

If need any support accessing your first and/or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please feel free to contact

Open letter to Health Minister Patty Hadju
Open letter to NACI

MDC Change Agents 

As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, we are happy to share that the following members for MDC’s Advocacy Advisory Committee have been selected:

Catherine Boivin
Profession: Digital Technologies Specialist and Consultant
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Alfred Breton-Pare
Profession: Senior CRA; Project Manager; Clinical Research Manager
Connection to MDC: Parent of a child affected by a NMD, MDC Board Member

Emily Hong-Wing Chan, BSc (Hons), MSW (Cand.)
Profession: Social Worker
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Dr. Sue Dojeiji MD, Med, FRCPC
Profession: Physiatrist-in-Chief, Clinical educator; Neuromuscular Researcher
Connection to MDC: NMD Clinician-Scientist

Susan Jahnke
British Columbia
Profession: Business Owner & Website Manager
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Corrine Kagan, BA (Hons)
Profession: Past Senior Program Director (ABI)
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Dr. Colin Kovacs, MD, Med, FRCPC
Profession: Family Medicine/HIV Primary Care Physician; Assistant Professor in Internal Medicine at U of T
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD, Member of NMD4C

Ken Kramer, Q.C.
British Columbia
Profession: Principal & Senior Associate Counsel at KMK Law
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Louis Joseph Lauziere
Profession: Past Senior Policy Advisor in Dept of Justice at Gov of Saskatchewan
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Michael Low, JD
Profession: Litigation Associate at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
Connection to MDC: Parent of a child affected by a NMD

Stefanie Marinich-Lee, LLB.
Profession: Lawyer, Corporate HR
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Erin Novakowski
Profession: Undergraduate student at U of Alberta; Disability Social Media manager; Writer and Contributor for Accessible Housing Canada
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Thu Parmar, B.Sc. Pharm
Profession: Clinical Pharmacist; Managed public drug programs at Alberta MoH; Senior Manager of Government Relations & Public Policy at Hoffmann-La Roche Limited (Roche Canada)
Connection to MDC: NMD Industry Partner

Jalee Pelissier
Profession: PT/OT Aide
Connection to MDC: Adult affected by a NMD

Kara Reid, BSc OT
New Brunswick
Profession: Occupational Therapist
Connection to MDC: Member of Neuromuscular Clinic, MDC Board Member

Dr. Kerri Schellenberg  MD, MMedEd, FRCPC, CSCN (EMG)
Profession: Neurologist and Medical Director ALS Clinic; Neuromuscular researcher.
Connection to MDC: NMD Clinician-Scientist

Erica Vella, BA
Profession: Digital Broadcast Journalist with Global News Toronto
Connection to MDC: Family member of an adult affected by NMD

Fatima Vido-Vecchio, B.Sc. PT
British Columbia
Profession: Physiotherapist
Connection to MDC: Member of Neuromuscular Clinic

Elaine Whitmore
Profession: Past CEO of John McGivney Children’s Centre
Connection to MDC: Friend of persons affected by NMD; Advocate

We are thankful to all who applied and applaud our new members for coming forward to help us work together towards inclusive policies that reflects and respects Canada’s diversity, values the neuromuscular experience and are accessibility-focused.

We look forward to influencing positive change together! If you have any questions about advocacy, please email

Researchers from across Canada join The Tenaquip Foundation’s Walk4MD to raise awareness and funding for neuromuscular disorder community


Toronto, Ontario – For the second year in a row, Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) is bringing the neuromuscular disorder (NMD) community together virtually for its annual Walk4MD, which raises much needed funds to support Canadians affected – and this year researchers are joining the Walk4MD family.

On June 19 at 3 p.m. EST, thousands of Canadians including six prominent NMD researchers across the country will come together, virtually, to participate in The Tenaquip Foundation’s Walk for Muscular Dystrophy (Walk4MD).

Dr. Reshma Amin from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto is excited to be one of the Walk4MD Research Champions. “I look after so many amazing children with neuromuscular disease and their families. They deserve to be celebrated and what better way to do so than in partnership with MDC through the Walk4MD.”

“Important advancements are taking place in research right now, and we want to ensure that these advancements continue, and result in better treatments and ultimately a cure for neuromuscular disorders. We feel very fortunate to have the support of Dr. Reshma Amin, MD; Dr. Bernard Brais, MD, PhD; Dr. Nicolas Chrestian, MD; Dr. Robin Parks PhD; Dr. Gerald Pfeffer, MD, PhD; and Dr. Martine Tetreault, PhD and look forward to our NMD community getting to know these incredible individuals better,” said Stacey Lintern, CEO, Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

She added, “I’m also pleased to share that The Tenaquip Foundation is joining us again as title sponsor, and Global has returned as media sponsor for the second year in a row. Like us, they are committed to raising awareness and funds for the Canadian NMD community.”

The Tenaquip Foundation’s Walk4MD is a signature fundraising event for MDC that raises critical funds to support Canadians impacted by neuromuscular disorders. This year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the funds raised are more important than ever.

“There is still urgency to raise funds to meet the increased needs of our clients during this time,” says Lintern. “Like last year, we’ve had to cancel the majority of our fundraising events for the safety and well-being of our team and the NMD community. That unfortunately, has resulted in a 60 per cent decrease in revenue in our first quarter last year.”

The goal of The Tenaquip Foundation’s Walk4MD this year is to raise $870,000. These funds will be invested in services and programs, like equipment, and ensure MDC can meet the unique needs of the neuromuscular community while continuing to invest in research for better health outcomes for individuals impacted by neuromuscular disorders.

To learn more about The Tenaquip Foundation’s Walk4MD or to register for this exciting event, please visit



Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s mission is to enhance the lives of those impacted with neuromuscular disorders by continually working to provide ongoing support and resources while relentlessly searching for a cure through well-funded research. To learn more about Muscular Dystrophy Canada, please visit or call our toll-free number at 1-800-567-2873.


Heather Rice
Muscular Dystrophy Canada

MDC’s Response to the CADTH and INESSS Recommendations for Onasemnogene abeparvovec: A Call for Newborn Screening

At the end of 2020, Health Canada approved Onasemnogene abeparvovec (Zolgensma®) for the treatment of pediatric patients with 5q Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) with biallelic mutations in the SMN1 gene and three or fewer copies of SMN2 gene, or infantile-onset SMA, bringing renewed hope to Canadian families affected by SMA. Onasemnogene abeparvovec is the second treatment approved by Health Canada for SMA and the first gene therapy for SMA. The broad indication as part of Health Canada approval was followed up with recommendations from the Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) and most recently, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) Canadian Drug Expert Committees. The recommendations were formulated following a comprehensive evidence-based review of the medication's efficacy or effectiveness and safety and an assessment of its cost-effectiveness. The CADTH recommendations note that Onasemnogene abeparvovec should be for patients who are: symptomatic or pre-symptomatic with one to three copies of the survival motor neuron gene; 6 months of age or younger; not currently requiring permanent feeding or ventilatory support (either invasive or non-invasive).

Based on the patient input we put forward to CADTH and INESSS, we know SMA contributes to a loss of independence, increased load on families, difficulty breathing, swallowing and loss of mobility and can have a negative impact on mental and emotional well-being. Since Health Canada’s approval of treatments for SMA, families have been anxiously approaching age limitations and tirelessly advocating for access. While we commend INESSS and CADTH for their thorough class reviews, we are disappointed to see Onasemnogene abeparvovec is not recommended for those over the age of 6 months and a case-by-case review mechanism has not been suggested by CADTH. This emphasizes the need for a comprehensive Rare Disease Strategy and a process/mechanism to address the evidence gap for older infants and children. We thank the clinical experts for contributing to the reviews and we are in full agreement with the clinical experts that “earliest possible initiation of therapy” is important when it comes to SMA because it is associated with irreversible loss of motor neurons and motor nerves. This means in order to best benefit from the treatments currently approved and available in Canada, a diagnosis should be available as early as possible. Thankfully, this is the case in Ontario – newborn screening for SMA is part of the infant screening panel at birth since 2020. However, for anyone outside of Ontario, a diagnosis prior to 6 months of age is not always achieved. The recent INESSS and CADTH recommendations highlight the critical need for newborn screening, especially in the presence of approved treatments, and strongly provides support for MDC’s current initiative to implement nation-wide newborn screening for SMA.

We acknowledge that the recent approval of another treatment for SMA and related drug review recommendations has taken us another significant step towards early diagnosis and treatment choice. MDC is committed to continually work with individuals affected by SMA and their families on an individualized basis to provide holistic supports, resources for making evidence-informed choices and supporting individual advocacy activities.

We are looking forward to continued research and developments that can demonstrate the meaningful benefits of early diagnosis and early access to treatments for health outcomes and health-related quality of life for Canadians affected by SMA.

Stacey Lintern
Chief Executive Officer
Muscular Dystrophy Canada

Download this news article (PDF)

You can bring people together, even when we have to stay apart

Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) is extremely fortunate to have your support. We are truly grateful that even during these challenging times, together we are able to support the thousands of Canadians impacted by neuromuscular disorders to live their best lives. While at the same time work relentlessly to search for cures and ensure that the neuromuscular community has access to the right diagnosis’, treatments and therapies.

Because of you, we are able to respond to the thousands of requests for support from our client’s and their families, the neuromuscular research community and health care professional’s each and every day.

Canadians with rare disorders, like Susan Jahnke, are extremely isolated during this pandemic. Your support today, can help them create connections.
As you know, living with a neuromuscular disorder (NMD) has its challenges. Add in a global pandemic and it opens up a whole new set of obstacles. We need your support to ensure individuals, like Susan Jahnke, continue to get the support they need during these challenging times. Susan recently shared with us how difficult having a rare NMD has been this past year.


“I have a rare neuromuscular disorder that most people understandably haven't heard of, congenital fibre type disproportion. I have good days where I don't feel too bad, and don't think about my disability much - but I haven't had days like that during the pandemic. I'm confronted by being vulnerable every time I read the news or try to plan even a very limited outing. The reminder of how susceptible I am to the complications of COVID-19 is inescapable.

I miss seeing my friends, my mum and my brother, but the hardest part for me has been the tough choices my family had to make. My stepdaughter is in high school, and trying to balance keeping me safe, and keeping her life as normal as possible with her education and work, has meant that she's spending most of her time with her other parent. This has been such a painful balancing act.”

Your support today will mean that people like Susan won’t have to go through this difficult time alone. Your donation will ensure they can access the right services and supports to remove some of the many challenges they face. Together, we can ensure our Service Specialists across Canada are only a phone call away, equipped to work with each and every client and their families to break down barriers and alleviate frustrations.

Susan continued by sharing, “I also have to choose between getting the medical and healthcare I need, and risking COVID-19 exposure. Which is more important? It's such a hard thing to figure out, and my general health has really been suffering. I'm glad I'm able to stay in contact with my general practitioner over the telephone, but I'm missing out on critical care like physiotherapy and seeing specialists. One silver lining of the pandemic is how much it's highlighted the need for connection and I try to find new ways of reaching out, even on the hard days.”

You can keep Service Specialists, like Courtney, just a phone call away for Canadians needing support.
Thanks to you, Susan can connect with friends in the neuromuscular community through virtual network meetings or pick up the phone and call an MDC Service Specialist.


People across the country affected by neuromuscular disorders have experienced similar challenges. Challenges no one should have to go through alone. That’s why MDC is so fortunate to have supporters, like you, who recognize the importance of providing opportunities for connection – whether that’s bringing individuals together virtually, or ensuring they have someone like me to reach out to for support,” shared Courtney Stearns, MDC Service Specialist.

Like you, MDC is dedicated to being there for all Canadians affected by neuromuscular disorders. Your generous support makes it possible for Canadians to connect and support each other virtually. And, will mean investments to continue the research momentum we are seeing in Canada. Donors like you make the funding of these incredible research projects go from an idea to action. Please consider making another donation today to move more research projects forward.

I hope we can count on you to continue your support. Your generosity fuels our mission, passion, and hope for a future with cures for neuromuscular disorders. You make an incredible difference.

Warm regards,
Stacey Lintern
CEO, Muscular Dystrophy Canada

P.S. Your donations have funded incredible projects such as a research hotline to answer critical questions from the NMD community, a virtual clinical care program to support home-ventilation, a partnership to make nation-wide newborn screening for SMA a reality and evidence-based webinars to share timely information with our national community. Please consider making a donation today to propel even more critical initiatives forward.

Muscular Dystrophy Canada Receives National Accreditation

March 3, 2021 – Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) has been awarded accreditation in Imagine Canada’s Standards Program for excellence in non-profit accountability, transparency, governance and fundraising. Created “by the sector for the sector”, the Imagine Canada Standards Program is the only national accreditation program that is designed for all Canadian charities and non-profits.

To earn the accreditation, organizations must demonstrate excellence in five fundamental areas: board governance; financial accountability and transparency; fundraising; staff management; and volunteer involvement. Accreditation is a sought-after hallmark of excellence within the sector for funders, donors, sponsors and supporters alike.

Organizations receiving the accreditation are awarded a Trustmark to signal credibility and build confidence with donors.

“The Imagine Canada Standards Program accreditation demonstrates MDC’s commitment to our donors, supporters, all Canadians who are impacted by neuromuscular disorders, and to the work that we do,” said Donna Nixon, Chair, Board of Directors, Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

Nixon added, “We’ve always held to these standards, but by completing this comprehensive application and peer-review process we’ve been able to refine and evolve some of our practices to further strengthen the organization. My fellow directors, the leadership team and staff at MDC were all instrumental in making this accreditation possible. I thank them for their hard work and commitment through the application process, and for ensuring that MDC is upholding Imagine Canada’s standards for excellence and leadership in the non-profit sector each and every day.”

“Earning the accreditation, especially in these changing times, shows remarkable resilience, and a strong commitment to innovation and excellence. We commend the latest well-deserving recipients of the Trustmark for achieving Imagine Canada’s Standards accreditation, and demonstrating outstanding adherence to sound governance,” said Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO of Imagine Canada.

To learn more, visit

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Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s mission is to enhance the lives of those impacted with neuromuscular disorders by continually working to provide ongoing support and resources while relentlessly searching for a cure through well-funded research. Learn more about MDC online, or call our toll-free number at 1-800-567-2873.


The goals of Imagine Canada’s Standards Program are to increase organizational excellence and transparency of charities and nonprofits, to build resilience and to strengthen public confidence in individual organizations and the sector as a whole. To earn the accreditation, organizations must meet 73 standards in financial management and accountability, fundraising practise, board governance, staff management, and volunteer management.


Heather Rice,
Muscular Dystrophy Canada

Muscular Dystrophy Canada calls on provincial governments to prioritize persons affected by neuromuscular disorders for COVID-19 vaccine

February 23, 2021 – Many people living with neuromuscular disorders (NMD) are at greater risk of developing serious symptoms and complications as a result of COVID-19 due to their often pre-existing cardiac and respiratory issues and chronic comorbidities. As the voice of the NMD community in Canada, Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC) is calling on governments to prioritize people living with hereditary and acquired neuromuscular disorders in their vaccination roll-out.

Specifically, MDC is asking that the following groups of people with neuromuscular disorders be prioritized: adults requiring multiple caregivers or complex ongoing support in the home, community or institutional setting; the caregivers or home care workers who provide ongoing support to children and adults with neuromuscular disorders; adults with severe or unstable respiratory issues; adults with reliance on home ventilation; adults with clinically relevant impairment of heart function; and, adults receiving immunosuppressants.

Read more

Rare Disease Day

SMA & Related Disorders | “Mighty Max” Sych

“Max was diagnosed with SMA Type 2 during the pandemic. We have had to learn to be patient with each other when navigating this new way of life. We have spent hours on Zoom calls with physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and kinesiologists in order to get Max moving. There were many times, we wished we could just be there in person. It has been hard but extremely rewarding when the person on the other side of the screen tells you how well Max is doing!

Throughout the pandemic we have also been advocating for access to life-changing treatment for Max. As a parent you are your child’s number one advocate and although the pandemic made it that much more difficult, it has been so important for us to never give up the fight.”

- Bryarly Parker and Bowden Sych, parents of Max.

Congenital Myopathies | Susan Jahnke

“I have a rare neuromuscular disorder that most people understandably haven't heard of, congenital fibre type disproportion. I have good days where I don't feel too bad, and don't think about my disability much - but I haven't had days like that during the pandemic. I'm confronted by being 'vulnerable' every time I read the news or try to plan even a very limited outing. It's inescapable, this reminder of how susceptible I am to complications of COVID-19, and it's felt very scary and isolating to have to be so very careful.

I miss seeing my friends so much, I miss seeing my mum and my brother... but the hardest thing about life during the pandemic is some of the tough choices my family has had to make. My stepdaughter is in high school, and trying to balance keeping me safe and keeping her life as normal as possible with her education and her work, has meant that she's spending most of her time with her other parent. This has been such a painful and ongoing balancing act.

I also have to choose between getting the medical and health care I need, and risking a COVID-19 exposure. Which is more important? It's such a hard thing to figure out and my general health has really been suffering. I'm glad I'm able to stay in contact with my GP over the telephone, but I'm missing out on critical care like physiotherapy and specialists.

One silver lining of the pandemic is how much it's highlighted the need for connection and I try to find new ways of reaching out, even on the hard days.”

- Susan Jahnke

Genetic and Immune-Mediated Neuromuscular Junction Disorders | Clinton Peres

“I lost both my parents and my aunt to COVID-19. What’s been even more heartbreaking is the fact that I was not able to see them when they were sick. This was not only because of the restrictions in my province, but because I have a rare condition called Myasthenia Gravis, which puts me at risk for possible severe COVID-19 complications.

The pandemic has made life living with Myasthenia Gravis very challenging. I have always been very close to my family and they have been there for me on my hard days. I still remember when my mom held my hand when I received my diagnosis. It is heartbreaking that I was not there in her final days to support her.

COVID-19 and has taught me the role of family when living with a rare neuromuscular disorder. This pandemic has been hard for all of us – we’ve been forced to stay at home, isolate and wear masks– but keep in mind these precautions are way better than being alone without loved ones in the final moments of your life. Let’s all continue to stay safe not only for ourselves, family members but also for the neuromuscular disease community.”

- Clinton Peres

Metabolic Myopathies | Brad Crittenden

“Living with a neuromuscular disorder, in my case Pompe Disease, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has made healthcare challenging; appointments are postponed, cancelled, changed to virtual or preceded by a virtual call.

Many of us also have lives with limited social connections already so an additional barrier makes life that more challenging. The fear of being affected by COVID-19 when already affected by Pompe Disease, due to risk for respiratory illness, is real.”

- Brad Crittenden

Congenital Myopathies | Alison Engel-Yan and Gavi Engel-Yan

“I have three amazing daughters, 13 year old twins and a 10 year old, Gavi, who has a rare neuromuscular condition called Nemaline Myopathy and is at risk for severe COVID-19 complications due to weak respiratory muscles.

We are worried about risk for our senior parents, but we also worry about Gavi. Vulnerable kids have been entirely forgotten in pandemic responses - not yet eligible for vaccines and reliant on many different caregivers who get no priority for vaccines. We have night nurses and school nurses coming in and out of the house. Gavi also loves and needs to be in school when school is in - schools must be safe for everyone but classes are too big, testing and tracing are inadequate. We know there is risk but she has the same rights to be in school as all kids so we take as many precautions as are within our control. And we worry.”

- Alison Engel-Yan

“COVID-19 affects me more because I have Nemaline Myopathy. Life during the pandemic is boring. I can do less activities than my sisters - like skating and hanging out with my friends outside. When I am outside, it is colder for me because I can’t move around and keep myself warm in my wheelchair.”

- Gavi Engel-Yan

Congenital Myopathies | Sarah Szmidt and Rebekkah Baldwin-Sheldon

“Rebekkah has Distal Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita. She has been affected directly by the COVID-19 pandemic by the lack of access and the ability to attend primary and specialist appointments. She was scheduled to have surgery in Spring 2020 and is still waiting. The presence of COVID-19 has shifted our awareness to those with disabilities and health issues but it still hasn’t allowed families the ability to get proper resources to live normal lives.

As a front-line worker, Rebekkah’s access has further declined due to my need to stay working. Taking time off work is doubly difficult: I either take time away from work and face decreased income or go to work and not be able to schedule appointments and care. The result has me being her direct and only caregiver while working full time.

While this young woman regularly experiences pain and is affected with mobility, it doesn’t deter her happy-go-lucky personality that beams with smiles and cheer for everyone she meets. Five years ago, I was told that she would not walk. Five years ago, I was determined to help her be the best version of her that she could. This past year she continues to meet milestones: hopping, jumping, riding a bike, swimming, learning to skate, Taekwon Do, and even participating in a 1 KM walk locally. It hasn’t been easy and there will always be hurdles, but this little girl is my hero, my reason, and my example of true strength and perseverance.”

- Sarah Szmidt

Muscular Dystrophies | Nadia Corapi

“Living in the midst of a pandemic with a physical debilitating disorder like Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy definitely presents new challenges. Winters have always been challenging with mobility issues and accessing things safely, but a pandemic definitely it ups the ante.

I have found the inability to access my Pilates class as a huge set back. Pilates has helped keep me strong, more flexible and was an important part of my mental health. Removing this necessary aspect of my life has left me feeling frustrated, limited to physical purposeful movement and a little fearful of what new physical limitations this may cause.

Social interaction is definitely a necessary human need. Missing family, not being able to support one another in difficult times such as grieving has left me feeling removed and disconnected. x`x Although I am blessed to have an amazing husband and great kids - this pandemic has taken its toll on me in many ways: physically, emotionally, and mentally.”

- Nadia Corapi

Congenital Muscular Dystrophies | Johanne Boudreault

“Since May 2019, I have gone from a known degenerative disease diagnosis, Congenital Myopathy, to a rare non-degenerative orphan disease: Bethlem Myopathy. In 2020, three issues turned my life upside down in COVID times. First, I turned 65 which meant I was in the high-risk group for COVID on top of my neuromuscular condition. Then, I fell and broke my arm.Third, my caregivers, not knowing anything about this disease and the effects that it could have on my body, refused to treat me. When I was hospitalized, the COVID-19 pandemic complicated things: I spent 14 days in isolation in the hospital without orthopaedic treatment. I witnessed first-hand the many challenges that healthcare staff had to face and deal with in the pandemic. I felt the strain on orthopedic care, as I had to fight for a few essential treatments so that I could use my arm and start walking again. Denying me these treatments was like nailing me to a wheelchair. Today, I continue to fight for my right to autonomy in the pandemic."

- Johanne Boudreault

Hereditary Peripheral Nerve Disorders | Wes Damon

“Living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease or as some call it, Hereditary Motor Sensory Neuropathy, during the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult to say the least. I have been shut off from a lot – a lot more than usual life with a rare condition. The simple things like going to a coffee shop or going for a walk through the mall are now gone. For me this was my only way to get out as it was easier on my legs to walk. It has been hard not only on my body but also on my mind – on my emotional and mental health. I always knew living with a rare condition like CMT made me appreciate the little things, but now more than ever I appreciate all the little things in life.”

- Wes Damon

Hereditary Peripheral Nerve Disorders | Traci Williams

“When the pandemic started, it was the middle of winter… as someone with CMT, I tend to “hibernate” in the winters, so I had a well-stocked freezer and much that I needed. I already worked from home and in a way was prepared. In a sense, I felt I was made for this, having had to adapt all my life to various situations. I make sure I am okay on all levels, get the rest I need, connect with people regularly, attend church online, let my doctor know if anything is happening, have what I need delivered, recognize that this is a difficult time, take in the facts, and then strive to find bits of joy (for example, I play music).

I am an introvert, so in some ways, I do not have as much stress… it was always an ordeal to get outside with my disease, so not having to or finding other ways to do what I need to do has taken some pressure off of me.”

- Traci Williams

Autoimmune Mediated Myopathies | Elaine Dicken

“Living with a rare condition, Inclusion Body Myositis, during a pandemic has meant that I could not physically see some of my family and friends for almost a year now. I’m tired of eating my own cooking. I don’t get enough exercise or fresh air because I’m not even grocery shopping as often, particularly in the winter. There are some benefits: telephone doctor appointments to renew prescriptions and learning new technology skills. I was skeptical about virtual physiotherapy appointments, but it has worked quite well. In spite of the challenging 11 months, I’m thankful I have hobbies that keep me connected like volunteering with Myositis Canada and participating in the Muscular Dystrophy Canada virtual network meetings.

- Elaine Dicken

Muscular Dystrophies | Brad Miller

“Living with a rare condition, Becker Muscular Dystrophy, during the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough. I have to take careful precautions when venturing out in the community.

A truly helpful thing I've taken advantage of is the option of scheduling grocery pick-ups, which does help limit my exposure to larger crowds.

Like most, the inability to spend time with friends and family has been the most difficult. I hope one day things will get back to normal.”

- Brad Miller

Muscular Dystrophies | Alfred Breton-Pare and Eloi

“For a family impacted by a neuromuscular disorder, in our case Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the pandemic exacerbated the challenges we are already facing. For our son Éloi, it meant delays in medical assessments and for some treatments. With the confinement, we have also witnessed a pause in clinical research activities and restrictions to travel to hospitals located in other provinces. With precious time passing by, it could mean losing eligibility to an investigational treatment (either by aging, loss of physical capabilities or end of recruitment). With the vaccination currently ongoing, let’s hope all activities will return soon to a normal setting for every families within our community.”

- Alfred Breton-Pare

“COVID-19 has certainly limited my recreational and social activities. We could not meet with family and friends like we used too. I also felt isolated from my teachers and classmates during the confinement. It was a great news when schools re-opened. Despite being restricted to only one “bubble”, I realized however that it facilitated creating new friendships.”

- Eloi

Your Impact on the Neuromuscular Community in 2020 was Profound

Welcome to 2021. I think it’s safe to say we’re all looking forward to the fresh start and renewed possibilities that this year will bring.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of the Canadian neuromuscular community in 2020. It was a challenging year for all, but your support directly impacted thousands of families and individuals across the country. Your donations funded access to treatments, programs and services and ground-breaking research.

For instance, you’re helping ensure early screening and treatment is available regardless of where you live. Thanks to the support of donors like you, babies and families across the country are a step closer to early diagnosis and treatment. We’re very excited to embark on a nation-wide newborn screening collaboration in 2021 to fuel the goal of making newborn screening for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) a reality.

Also because of you, individuals affected by neuromuscular disorders stayed connected with their community, and were provided knowledgeable advice from experts in the health and medical fields during the pandemic. Your support allowed us to offer network meetings and educational webinars, virtually, so individuals could participate from the safety of their homes.


Donors, like you, also played a vital role in keeping families together over the holidays. A research project you funded, A Virtual Transition Intervention for Children and Adults Transitioning To Home Ventilation, brought complex ventilator support into homes virtually. Individuals requiring ventilators to help with breathing make frequent visits to hospitals for specialized care and to ensure their equipment is working properly. This year, given these individuals are at a high risk for respiratory illness it was more important than ever that they stay at home with close family and friends. Thanks to your support of this research project, a virtual support program was piloted to bring medical experts into the homes of these individuals, reducing the need for hospital visits and possible exposure to COVID.

When we work together, we can truly accomplish incredible things.

That’s why I’m reaching out to you today. Will you renew your commitment to the neuromuscular community in 2021 by making a donation to MDC? Your gift will mean more investments in research, life-changing partnerships and continued support for individuals and families regardless of where they live.

The beginning of a new year is also the perfect time to become a monthly donor. Monthly donations support long-term projects and initiatives. They keep vital programs and services going all year long and ensure that critical advocacy efforts can continue to make positive changes for our community. The pandemic has underscored the vital importance of each and every donor and a sustainable monthly gift provides certainty for our ongoing work.

I know with your renewed support, we can continue to make meaningful changes, invest in research and form valuable partnerships that support Canadians affected by neuromuscular disorders.

Partnerships, such as the one with Thames Valley Neuromuscular Clinic where a pilot program is helping pediatric patients and their families make informed decisions throughout the care journey to alleviate some of the fear and stress these parents often experience. Your donations are also behind our Systems Navigation program, which helps Canadians with all areas of their non-medical needs. This past year, your gifts ensured MDC was able to continue funding critical equipment for individuals impacted by a neuromuscular disorder despite a drastic reduction in fundraising revenue.

MDC is the only national charity that supports Canadians with a wide range of neuromuscular disorders across the country, but we can’t do it without you. The impact you are having on the neuromuscular community is profound.

I hope we can count on you to renew your support today by making a donation.

Again, thank you for your support in 2020 and I look forward to working with you to continue changing lives in 2021. Because, like us, I know you too are ignited by passion and fuelled by hope.

Warm regards,
Stacey Lintern
CEO, Muscular Dystrophy Canada

P.S. Our new year appeal is one of our most important. Donations from supportive Canadians like you are put to work right away to support families and to fund research. While hope is renewed with the recent COVID vaccine, charities like ours continue to be impacted by its effect on our traditional fundraising activities and the economic realities for so many. We hope you can continue your support for 2021.