A Trekker Profile

Featuring every Trekker who has registered for ChallengeMD! 2009 Nepal. Read about what has motivated each individual to undertake this challenge, and by clicking on ...More... next to each Trekker you can read about the publicity generated for that Trekker.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Even though participants in ChallengeMD! have managed to raise the magnificent sum of $161,965 so far, the MDA is still seeking further support to advance support and information services and to further the current research being undertaken. Both these initiatives will have a significant impact on members of the MD Community.

You can sponsor a Trekker of your choice by a straight donation. You decide how much you want to contribute toward the important work of the MDA. Once you have decided to proceed, click on the "Sponsor Trekker " button adjacent to a selected Trekker to transfer to our secure transaction server. And be very aware every cent or dollar that you contribute toward every step we take, will bring us one step closer! You CAN help in the Fight Muscular Dystrophy Campaign with your sponsorship.

Interested in corporate sponsorship of the event, through naming rights of the event, day or leg of the trek? If so, please visit our Sponsorship page or contact the Executive Director at MDA on 61 3 9320 9555.

Donations and Sponsorship can be remitted directly into the MD bank account.

Banking Details:

Account Name Muscular Dystrophy - ChallengeMD BSB 083 376 Account 86852 9099





Boris M Struk

Trekker - 73

Trekker - Boris Struk

Profile - Executive Director MDA

Boris knows only too well the devastating effect that Duchenne MD has had on his son Ryan. He is also no stranger to the challenges faced by a family learning to deal with the reality of life with one of these disorders. Boris' youngest son Ryan has valiantly battled the relentless progression of his disorder for the last 25 years, however as each year progresses his decline in strength seems to solidify Ryan's resolve to fight on.

As Executive Director of the MDA, Boris also knows only too well the devastating effects that MD has on the other members of "our MD Community" and it has been his determination that has seen the MDA evolve over the last two decades to be the robust, reliable and relevant organisation that it is today.

By challenging his own physical and mental stamina, as he did through ChallengeMD 2006 Vietnam, ChallengeMD 2007 Cambodia and ChallengeMD 2008 China Boris hopes to bring others "on the journey" either physically with him or financially by supporting his efforts and those of the other ChallengeMD! Team members.

Sponsorship Target - 50,000

Current Sponsorship - $45,670

Shaun & Jack Dexter

Trekker - 74

Trekker - Shaun Dexter

Profile - Jack's Brother

When injury robbed Joanne Dexter of her dream of completing a third ChallengeMD! by trekking through the mountains of Nepal this October, her eldest son Shaun didn't think twice about stepping into her shoes.

Joanne cycled through Vietnam in 2006 and through southern China in 2008 to raise money for muscular dystrophy, inspired by her youngest son Jack who is affected by MD.

"I'm doing it for one reason - for muscular dystrophy," Shaun said. "When it does get tough I will think this is why I did it and that will be enough motivation."

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $8,000

Leanne Sammels

Trekker - 75

Trekker - Leanne  Sammels

Profile - Medical Scientist

I am 43 years old with 2 grown up kids, Joshua (22) and Bridget (19). I work at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth, Western Australia as a Medical Scientist. I worked for a number of years on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research at the University of Western Australia and learnt about the devastating impact MD has on people with MD and also their family and friends. Discovering better treatments and ultimately a cure for MD is an incredibly difficult challenge but it is achievable. The scientists in Australia and around the world working towards this goal are making progress. Raising money to fund the National Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre will help to achieve this goal. As will the MDA's ability to provide more support and services to members of the MD community.

My reason for paqrticipating (I rode in ChallengeMD 2007 Cambodia) is to raise money to support people affected by MD and their families and to contribute to the funding for research to develop a cure for MD. I can't wait to meet the challenge of Trekking across Nepal. It will be a once in a lifetime experience for me and will hopefully help make a difference in the lives of people living with MD.

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $6,690

David Hall

Trekker - 76

Trekker - David Hall

Profile -

Hi, my name is David Hall. The photo you see of me was taken by my son Connor when we were bushwalking recently in the mountains near our home. I am very committed to the MDA cause and the challenge of raising community awareness and funding to support the needs of the muscular dystrophy community in Australia. I have been supporting the MDA for many years through cash donations and raffles though this year I have decided to roll up my sleeves and get serious about the MDA cause! I think ChallengeMD! 2009 Nepal is an excellent opportunity to achieve this and I expect to continue raising funds for MDA for years to come!

I live in the ACT and I am married to Debbie. We have four children - Liam (19), Alasdair (15), Connor (11) and Keeley (4). Sadly, our Connor has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He is a brave young man and he inspires me and others around us to do more for those who suffer from these terrible diseases. As you can see from my photo, I am interested in bushwalking. I am also into bicycle riding and I support the Brumbies Rugby Union team.

You are welcome to visit my website which I have established in conjunction with my fundraising activities www.echelleblue.net

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $7,769

Margaret Romeo

Trekker - 79

Trekker - Margaret Romeo

Profile - Respite Coordinator

I am the mother of three great teenage kids, Bianca (19), Tom (18) and Maddie (14). My sister, Joanne, suggested we participate in ChallengeMD! 2006 Vietnam, and that was where it started. This will be my third Challenge and it has been very rewarding to be involved with such a fantastic cause.

My nephew, Jack who is 18 has Duchenne MD. He was diagnosed when he was 5. He is a great young man and has a really good outlook on life.

I have recently started working at MDA as Respite Coordinator, and this has made me so much more aware of the need to raise awareness and funds, to support the MDA community, not only in research, but also in respite and support services.

ChallengeMD! 2006 Vietnam and ChallengeMD! 2008 China made me realise that we all tend to take our physical abilities for granted. I really struggled with the first bike ride, but got into the right mind set with the second one. I know the trek through Nepal is going to be hard work, but I also know how rewarding it will be to know we have made a contribution to Making a Difference to those affected by this terrible disorder.

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $9,821

Hayley Charles

Trekker - 80

Trekker - Hayley Charles

Profile - Senior Tax Analyst

Hi, I'm Hayley Charles. I am a Senior Tax Analyst at Deloitte in Melbourne and I have been focussing my career on assisting the not for profit sector of the community for the past two years. I have always been interested in helping out the Muscular Dystrophy Association and what a fantastic way to do so!

I have decided to undertake this exciting adventure for one main reason, and that reason is my cousin, Ian Charles. Ian was born with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 1983 and I have seen first hand what a terrible disease this is. Every Christmas my sisters and I would look forward to seeing our cousin Ian again, whether it be to play chasey in the garden with Ian in his wheelchair or to banter about the year of footy. We never saw eye to eye with the football, but I loved our disagreements and the passion we both had for our respective sides (Ian - Geelong, Me - Adelaide). However, devastatingly, Ian passed away in 1999.

When I received an email from Boris a couple of weeks ago about the trek, it didn't take me long to convince myself to sign up. What a great cause to support and this year marks the 10 year anniversary of Ian's departure from the world.

This one is for you Ian!

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $9,580

Kristy May

Trekker - 81

Trekker - Kristy May

Profile -

My boyfriend's brother has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and it was only late last year that I learned about his condition. I'd never heard of it before and I was afraid to ask questions. So I did a bit of reading on the MDA website to learn more. Reading about MD shocked me with how serious the effects are and the toll it takes on these peoples lives as well as the family. It made me feel privileged that I can do what I do everyday.

His parents do a fantastic job looking after him and helping everyone possible through MDA. And I know that they don't need my help in that department. That's why I chose to join the ChallengeMD Nepal - as a way of saying I want to make a difference and help in the best way I know how.

Thanks for making me aware, hopefully I can do the same for others

For Ryan

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $6,500

Lynne & Michael Pezzullo

Trekker - 82

Trekker - Lynne & Michael Pezzullo

Profile -

Lynne and Michael became interested in helping people with MD in 2007, when Lynne's health economics team at Access Economics researched the cost of MD in Australia. Lynne was very moved by the huge impact that MD has on the lives of young people and their families, and inspired by the positive solutions and enormous commitment provided by MDA. The early onset and chronic disabling nature of most forms of MD mean that its economic and disability burden is very high compared to other health conditions. People whose lives are touched by MD are forever changed.

Lynne and Michael were challenged by the innovative and healthy ways that MD raises funds. Lynne enjoys hiking, having trekked various mountains in Australia, North America and Patagonia. Michael and Lynne have their 20th wedding anniversary in October, and couldn't resist the opportunity to celebrate by helping out MDA through ChallengeMD 2009 Nepal. Research into the causes, care and cure of MD is a very worthy objective - and Lynne and Michael both strongly support ethical medical research.

Sponsorship Target - $13,000

Current Sponsorship - $13,000

Shireen Lamande

Trekker - 84

Trekker - Shireen  Lamande

Profile - Medical Research Scientist

My research group at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute focuses on understanding the causes of muscular dystrophy. As well as our research, we work closely with clinicians to provide diagnostic information for patients and their families. Our ultimate goal is to develop therapies that will improve the lives of people with muscular dystrophy.

I have been aware of the great work that MDA does to support muscular dystrophy families for a long time but only recently started to interact directly with Boris and his team. My research challenges me intellectually every day but sitting at the lab bench or in front of a computer doesn't do much for me physically.

ChallengeMD Nepal is the perfect way for me to support the work of MDA with families and promote the importance of research into this devastating group of disorders, while challenging myself physically (getting fit) and socially (fundraising).

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $5,712

Sandra Fuller

Trekker - 85

Trekker - Sandra Fuller

Profile - Sales Assistant

Hi, my name is Sandra. I have been living in Melbourne for the past 8 years. Most of my spare time is consumed by my interest in Violin Making.

A couple of years ago, my nephew Fletch was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Now my interests also lie in trying to understand Muscular Dystrophy research papers. I am thankful that we have some great minds producing great research. I am putting all my positive thoughts into cures being found for all the strains of muscular dystrophy (and other serious illnesses) soon.

I have already participated in ChallengeMD 2007 Cambodia and look forward to your support of my efforts in ChallengeMD 2009 Nepal

I really believe that if we all contribute in any small way and stay focused, we can get there quicker. It has been a great comfort for me to learn that we have a Muscular Dystrophy Association, with people that care and provide care. Please throw all your money at us, so we can give it to them.

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $9,675

Daniella Villano

Trekker - 86

Trekker - Daniella Villano

Profile - MDA Neuromuscular Nurse Coordinator

HI! My name is Daniella Villano and I have spent the last 5 years working as a nurse at The Royal Children's Hospital.

During the past year I have taken the opportunity to work closely with children and families affected with neuromuscular conditions as the MDA Neuromuscular Nurse Coordinator.

This opportunity has taught me great deal about the MD community.

Despite the many bright eyed, beautiful faces I see and all the quirky jokes I get told on a daily basis, the reality of each child & family's challenges and suffering are very real. The gaps in services, funding & research are also very real.

The decision to challenge myself in this year's ChallengeMD! was truly based on this.

While my role allows me to dedicate myself as a professional, this challenge will be a personal test of mental and physical endurance to raise greatly needed awareness and funds for all those affected by these devastating conditions.

So be sure that every step taken on all 14 days of trekking will not only be to challenge myself through conditions that I have never experienced, but also to take steps for each little life that has greatly touched mine.

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $9,789

Leon M Struk

Trekker - 87

Trekker - Leon Struk

Profile - Aircraft Engineer / Photographer

Leon lives a jetsetter life - working for an Australian airline as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer means plenty of discounted travel on his days off. Seeing the world is high on Leon's list of priorities, as his passion is photography.

This may sound like a great reason to participate in ChallengeMD! Nepal 2009, but it's not the main reason for Leon.

Leon's brother Ryan has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. So raising awareness and vital funds for the MDA is incredibly important to him. Leon rode his way through Vietnam for ChallengeMD in 2006, its inaugural year. The enormous physical battle to complete the bike ride only compounded Leon's determination to keep fighting for Ryan and so many others in the MD community.

Rising to the challenge, Leon has begun training and is looking forward to fundraising to meet his goals. He'll be joining his dad, Boris, in trekking Nepal, an indisputably determined father and son team out to - Fight Muscular Dystrophy!

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $9,698

Jason D White

Trekker - 88

Trekker - Jason White

Profile - Senior Scientist NMDRC

I am currently the Senior Scientist at MDAs National Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. My association with MD research goes back some 14 years to when I started as a PhD student on an MDA sponsored post-graduate scholarship. My research group is focused on an understanding of muscle growth, degeneration, regeneration and how this relates to the progression of MD. MDA has thus been a long supporter of my research and see this year's ChallengeMD Nepal as an opportunity to further get involved and hopefully give something back.

I have three kids, my youngest Harry is now two and a real handful. My life outside of the lecture theatre and lab centres on the kids and doing odd jobs about our house. ChallengeMD Nepal and the period leading to it will be utilised getting myself fit, which will be a great challenge (I am sure both physically and mentally) which I am looking forward to.

I honestly believe through efforts such as this and continued directed research we can together solve this problem.

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $7,345

Jenny Chong

Trekker - 89

Trekker - Jenny Chong

Profile - Personal Trainer

My brother Ian is my motivation to help raise money for Muscular Dystrophy. Ian was first diagnosed 20yrs ago with limb girdle MD, causing muscle wastage and degeneration.

In the past 12 months Ian was diagnosed with yet another health issue, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) called "Kugelberg Welander" which is a nerve disease.

With all the health issues that confront my brother, Ian still manages to have a sense of humour. The other day, he added to his list of diseases "painus in arsus", which he stated was the ability to be a pain in the arse! My brother is the most courageous, funny, inspiring and positive person I know and I love him dearly, as does his wonderful and caring, childhood sweetheart wife Marilyn, who has been a "rock" through all these years.

When ever things go wrong or I think I am having a bad day, I always think of my brother Ian and it puts everything back into perspective!

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $6,523

Jenna Follett

Trekker - 90

Trekker - Jenna Follett

Profile -

I've chosen to participate in ChallengeMD! Nepal as I wanted to step out of my comfort zone, while helping a worthwhile cause. When I came across the trek, it was exactly what I looking for. I am excited about the chance to help such a great charity and be part of a team of people who are all facing up to a big physical and emotional challenge. There are a lot of families touched by someone who has MD - and although I am not one of these people, I feel I can show my support by stepping outside what's familiar and pushing my personal limits - all in the name of raising valuable funds.

To me ChallengeMD! Nepal is a two stage process. Before I even think about Nepal, I am focused on fundraising as much as I can for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Then there is the trek through the Himalayan Mountains. I can only imagine how rewarding reaching the end will be. My motivation to embark on this journey is based on me wanting to push my own limits, while supporting a truly worthwhile cause.

Once I complete the trek I will be staying on in Nepal to do some further volunteer work with school children.

Sponsorship Target -

Current Sponsorship - $6,193

Total ChallengeMD! Sponsorship received to date $161,965

Help Make a Difference with your contribution.