Our Partners Swiss Association for Myopathy: Motorbike Ride for a Good Cause
The Swiss Association for Myopathy's motto is that even muscular dystrophy sufferers can live a full life. The Association supports 10,000 people with the condition in Switzerland and the Love Ride, its next major event, is coming soon. Janine Meier, who has the condition herself and is this year's ambassador, and Martin Knoblauch, the Association's Managing Director, share their experiences and sense of anticipation.
Mr. Knoblauch, the Love Ride is just around the corner once again. What is the Love Ride actually?
Martin Knoblauch: The Love Ride is the Swiss biker community's biggest fundraising event: Motorcyclists take disabled people for rides in sidecars or on trikes and every year give up to 300 unwell people something to smile about. In addition to the motorcycle ride, there's a party of course. The proceeds and donations benefit people with muscular dystrophy.
Incidentally, the idea comes from the US. Then two Swiss bikers decided to set up the Love Ride in Switzerland as well, and in the very first year asked the Association to be a partner. For us that was like winning the lottery, of course.
How important is the Love Ride for the Swiss Association for Myopathy?
Martin Knoblauch: The Love Ride is an important platform for us. There are few formats in which so many people in wheelchairs come together with healthy people on an equal footing. Because some go around in wheelchairs with four wheels and others ride bikes with two wheels. This feeling of normality is a very important part of the event, and helps to break the ice. The Love Ride also raises money for resources and leisure events for people with the condition. We can draw people's attention to muscular disorders as well.
Ms. Meier, you are the Love Ride Eagle at this year's Love Ride. What is the Love Ride Eagle and what exactly are your duties?
Janine Meier: (laughs) Well, I'm not quite sure about that myself yet. I mainly ride at the front and give interviews.
How does someone become a Love Ride Eagle?
Janine Meier: I can only speak for myself: In my case, a carer came to me and asked me if I could imagine becoming a Love Ride Eagle. Apparently, she had noticed that I'm full of energy. Apart from that, more men are affected by muscular disorders than women, so a female Eagle is something special.
When you look back, what has been your best experience of Love Ride, or the one that left the greatest impression?
Janine Meier: Unfortunately, because of the pain I suffer from, I haven't been able to go on a ride so far, and have just been a spectator. But watching the others going on the ride and seeing how happy they were was wonderful – that was the best thing for me.
Martin Knoblauch: For me it was my first Love Ride. It was pouring with rain. Despite that, the bikers and people with the condition came back from their ride with beaming faces although they were soaked through. The sight just made you feel very happy.
Mr. Knoblauch, where do you come across the Association on the day of the Love Ride itself?
Martin Knoblauch: We mainly help the people who suffer from the condition with the ride out – either with the organization or assisting at the start, for example distributing the helmets. In addition, we look after the coordination of our external helpers, from the Lions Club or Credit Suisse for instance. And of course, you can find us at our own stand where everyone can have a turn sitting in a wheelchair and steering themselves round a fun course.
What else does the Association do apart from the Love Ride? What other offers or events are part of your annual program?
Martin Knoblauch: We offer different things, self-help groups or courses for people with the condition. These are mainly about learning to live with the disorder. In addition, we organize a family day for communities with children who are affected. It is often the case that people focus mainly on the person with the illness. Positive experiences for the whole family help people to cope with that. We also work to improve educational opportunities. Thanks to major advances in medicine, people with the disease are living longer and can have good quality of life even with their disability. So it's important that young people with muscular dystrophy have a good education. We also offer a wide range of things for the relatives of people with muscular disorders and encourage them to share ideas.
What can our readers do to support the Swiss Association for Myopathy?
Martin Knoblauch: In general, we are happy if people find out about muscular disorders and are open about interacting with people who suffer from them. Events such as the Love Ride help a lot to break down barriers. And of course we're always pleased to be given active support: For example, you can donate your Bonviva points and help people with muscular disorders in that way. But it's not just financial support we depend on: We are always looking for volunteers, for example for our vacation camps. People don't need to have previous experience, they just have to be open-hearted.