End of an Era

After 33 years at the helm, Boris M Struk, Executive Director and builder of Muscular Dystrophy Australia (MDA), has announced his retirement.

Here are some highlights of Boris’ journey with MDA.

In 1984 Boris was told by a neurologist that his youngest son, Ryan, had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, one of the severest form of muscular dystrophies.

The lack of support available at the time prompted Boris to build upon MDA. A place to turn to for those in the community who have MD, as well as their families.

Increasing awareness for the need for respite as Boris was spending increasing time working on raising funds for MDA, in 1989, Ryan and 5 other DMD children attended the first CampMDA. We celebrated the 100th instance of CampMDA in 2017.

In 1995 Boris launched the first MD organisation in the world on the internet! To date MDA.org.au has attracted more than 24 million visitors worldwide.

In 1996 Boris purchased Australia’s first CoughAssist machine from its manufacturer in Massachusetts, USA.  Today, the CoughAssist is widely used in hospitals and in the home environment to treat respiratory infection but is also used as a prophylactic to help maintain the best possible respiratory function.

Boris started the ChallengeMD! series of events in 2006 where Boris pedalled Vietnam, Cambodia and  China. In 2009 and for a change, the bike was dispensed with and trekking became the mode of fundraising. Boris has trekked The Langtang Track in Nepal, around Mt Blanc and then Mt Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Together with other cyclists and trekkers, The ChallengeMD! events have raised more than $2.5 million.

Since day one, Boris has been responsible for raising in excess of $45 million, the purchase of two houses used for respite and the acquisition and development of the MDA HQ in North Melbourne.

MDA has a strong commitment to research and is the major sponsor of the National Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre (NMDRC) which is based at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne. He was responsible for the establishment of MDA’s first research teams together with Prof Ed Byrne AC and the Late Dr Lawrie Austin.

Boris has changed and shaped the disability landscape in Australia for the MD community for generations to come.  MDA has touched the lives of thousands of families around the country and around the globe, who without the organisation, would have nowhere to turn in their times of need.

“It’s been an amazing and challenging journey and I never expected to be involved with MDA for more than 30 years! I have been lucky to have had some amazing staff along the years, who have been dedicated and passionate about the cause.  I would like to acknowledge, in particular, Linda Lowe, who has been with MDA since almost the beginning.  I’m confident that I am leaving the organisation in good hands with our newly appointed CEO, Jan Chisholm”, concludes Boris M Struk.