Barry Michael, Boris M Struk and Andrew J Kornberg with the Harley that Boris will ride through Vietnam

It’s a long road from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. It’s even longer if you’re making the journey on a bicycle.

So who in their right mind would take to a bicycle to cover hundreds of kilometres of rugged mountain and coastal terrain, dense jungle and even parts of Vietnam’s barely inhabited central highlands region?

It’s a question that Boris M Struk, Associate Professor Andrew J Kornberg, and former world title boxer Barry Michael have asked themselves several times since signing on to do just that. But next April the trio will take on the challenge and pedal their way through Vietnam as part of the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s ChallengeMD!

Now the three may seem an unlikely trio to be tackling a tough ride like this together – but there is a common link. Barry Michael is a former world champion boxer who is more at home in the boxing ring than on a bicycle; MDA’s Executive Director Boris M Struk is a self-confessed work-a-holic whose long work hours rarely afford him the time to exercise; and by contrast, Associate Professor Andrew J Kornberg, Director of Neurology at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, is a keen cyclist in his spare time and regularly rides 50-100kms a week.

So what has motivated these three very different men to team up and don their cycling gear for ChallengeMD!?

“Each of us – Andrew, Barry and myself – have been fortunate enough in our lives to enjoy reasonably good health, and the strength to use our muscles” says Boris Struk.

“I found it so hard to comprehend that someone as young as Ryan could be faced with a bleak future. Personally I have always enjoyed good health and it was my strength in the ring that won me the world title.”

“It’s something that the majority of us take for granted, but the strenght and ability to move voluntary muscles at will is also something that becomes increasingly impossible for people who have a neuromuscular disorder like Muscular Dystrophy.

By taking on ChallengeMD! we hope that we can draw attention to this insidious disorder, and raise awareness to further research into finding a timely solution to neuromuscular disorders.”

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.

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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, Boris hopes to bring others “on the ride” either physically with him or financially by supporting his efforts and those of the other ChallengeMD! Team members.

Associate Professor Andrew J Kornberg has seen many children and adults like Ryan in his career as a neurologist at the Royal Children’s Hospital and has committed much of his professional life contributing to that growing pool of knowledge. And in his capacity as Director of the National Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre, Andrew alsocontributes his skills to accelerating the search for a timely solution.

Barry Michael’s introduction to the Muscular Dystrophy Association came through his involvement with Boris’ eldest son Leon. He has been Leon’s trainer and physical fitness mentor and friend. And it was on one of his visits to the Struk household that he first met Ryan a number of years ago. It was also his first encounter with someone affected by MD. “I found it so hard to comprehend that someone as young as Ryan could be faced with a bleak future. Personally, I have always enjoyed good health and it was my strength in the ring that won me the world title.” Barry said that he was committed to help in combating “this muscle destroying disorder.” Barry was lso one of the many high profile individuals who contributed to last year’s Melbourne’s Delights project. Since then, Barry has become a firm supporter of the Association, and has been touched by the courage and determination of some of the people he has met along the way who are affected by Muscular Dystrophy.