Ruby Dhatt-O’Leary was 19 years old when she learned she had Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
When she was diagnosed with the disease, she had just been accepted into a nursing program.
“I recall the doctor telling me to change programs because I would not be able to walk across the stage at graduation,” she said.
Now 36, Dhatt-O’Leary didn’t only graduate, she worked as a pediatrics nurse for 12 years.
“There’s always going to be obstacles along the way. One of the most powerful things I’ve heard in my journey is, ‘Don’t ruin a good thing by thinking about a bad yesterday.’
“It is important to have a good support system, and I could not ask for a better support group than my amazing family and friends,” she said.
Dhatt-O’Leary was the ambassador for the Red Deer Walk for Muscular Dystrophy at McKenzie Trails on Saturday afternoon.
More than $18,000 was raised at the event, which featured 75 walkers, to help provide essential medical and mobility devices for people with neuromuscular disorders.
Money raised at the event will also go toward research to find a cure.
Event co-ordinator Mark Perry said muscular dystrophy is extremely debilitating, and in many cases, fatal.
“It’s a degenerative muscle disorder. There are over 150 different kinds, each with their own set of symptoms and different diagnoses.
“The common factor is that an individual’s muscles weaken over time, which can lead to mobility issues, respiratory issues,” said Perry.
“There is no known cure for muscular dystrophy. There are some really promising treatments right now, which is why it’s important we’re gathering to increase funding for research.”
Perry said a newer drug, specifically for spinal muscular atrophy, has shown “a lot of promise.”
“But in Alberta, it’s only accessible for children and not for adults with onset muscular dystrophy. In other parts of Canada, everyone has access,” he said.
Walk participants were invited to sign a card, which will be sent to local MPs to “let them know it’s important to us that everyone has access to these drugs,” said Perry.
This is the 11th year the walk has been held in Red Deer.
“We have generations of participants now, which is really nice to see,” he said.
“Our fundraising has grown, our participation has grown, we’ve got a lot more support from local businesses over the last couple of years.”