A Richmond family was brought to tears as about a hundred people attended a 3.3-kilometre walk to raise funds for a common fatal form of muscular dystrophy on Sunday afternoon.
Dustin Haraguchi, five, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) in February 2022 — “a hard diagnosis to receive,” described Erika Haraguchi, Dustin’s mom.
DMD is a genetic disorder primarily affecting young boys. It is a degenerative disease that causes muscles to weaken progressively and the functions of vital organs to deteriorate, leading to shorter lives.
Groups of families, friends, classmates and sports club members joined the Haraguchi family in the grass field outside of Manoah Steves elementary for the May 28 event.
“It is so beautiful to see everyone coming out to not only support Dustin but also other kids who are diagnosed with this disease,” said Erika, as she wiped her tears.
“I want this to be a fun thing. I’m hoping the kids will want to come back and be like ‘Hey, remember we did that walk?’ and keep this going.”
The event was organized by Michelle May, Dustin’s aunt and Erika’s sister.
May described her nephew as “a light in this world” with an infectious smile and a sweet and caring personality and hoped to reflect just that through the event by giving back to Defeat Duchenne Canada, which supports Dustin and other kids like him across the country.
Erika told the Richmond News there were no signs or symptoms of Dustin having DMD until he was shy of his fourth birthday.
“Our whole world kind of came crashing down at that moment, but since then, we’ve been able to take it day by day and he’s happy,” she said.
Dustin will be attending kindergarten in September and while Erika doesn’t “feel ready,” she believes her son is.
“It’s unbelievably difficult and amazing at the same time,” said Erika.
“The school and … the community have been so supportive the entire way.
“We know there’s no cure currently, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be (in the future). So doing things like this (fundraising walk) gives us hope.”
She added their family plans to organize the walk every year to keep spreading the word about DMD and fundraise for a cure.
-with file from Vikki Hui, Richmond News