Allan Voykin

Allan Voykin

Muscular Dystrophy campaign helping thousands

Awareness campaign and fundraiser at Safeway in Castlegar highlights the need to find a cure for neuromuscular disorders.

Note: an earlier version of this story showed Dr. Wagstaff as being from Winlaw. He is, in fact, in Winfield as shown here.. We regret the error.


Muscular Dystrophy Canada and Castlegar Safeway have teamed up for a second year for the “Make Muscles Move” campaign, raising research funds and providing mobility grants to those with the genetic disorder.

Allan Voykin is one of the more than 50,000 Canadians, of all ages, with a neuromuscular disorder. He and his family — wife Tamara and sons Drake (15), Spencer (14) and Kellen (10) — all volunteered their time by helping bag and pack groceries, serve cake and provide information to customers during an awareness weekend held Aug. 16 to 18 at the Safeway on Columbia Avenue.

Voykin said he was diagnosed at the age of nine and worked as a dental hygienist for more than 20 years until last year it simply became too much for him.

“There were a lot of stairs,” said Voykin, who walks with the help of ski poles. “I need to be very aware of safety all the time.”

Muscular Dystrophy causes muscles to gradually decline and weaken; it can happen to anyone of any age or sex and there is no cure.

Voykin said he recently fell, injuring his knee, and needed assistance to get back on his feet.

“Little injuries add up,” he said, explaining that their home has been modified over the years to make getting around that much easier.

Everyone who lives with such a disorder is different, and Voykin said he does not take drugs to try and treat his symptoms. He prefers instead to work with naturopaths such as Dr. Craig Wagstaff of Winfield.

“He did amazing things for me,” said Voykin. “I wanted to practice [naturopathic medicine] and was studying it in Kamloops. He was a big part of my team. It’s not for everybody but when there’s no cure you have to look for alternatives.”

Voykin added that during those times he has been under the care of hospital staff, such as when he injured his knee, he felt cared for and that staff were very supportive.

Jamie Postnikoff, 1st assistant manager at the store, said last year the Castlegar Safeway raised $6,500; so far this year another $3,000 has been raised.

Safeway customers that donate $2 during the campaign will receive a limited edition cart coin key chain or 5 AIR MILES reward miles.

The “Make Muscles Move” campaign raised $1.2 million in 2012 and has helped over 200 families in Western Canada and Northwest Ontario with the purchase of almost 500 pieces of mobility equipment/medical devices and home modifications.

Since 2008, over $5.5 million has been raised and donated to Muscular Dystrophy Canada through its partnership with Canada Safeway. Safeway is also sponsoring the Youth in Action Conference in Vancouver next year, bringing together youth with neuromuscular disorders.

The program also offers scholarships to young adults aged 17 to 27 living with a neuromuscular disorder in Northern Ontario, the prairies and B.C.

Years ago, Voykin said he was a recipient of a $500 bursary from Kit Davidson while he was down in the Lower Mainland and such things are always appreciated.

Voykin also wanted to pass along his thanks to the Pass Creek Fire Department members, “Who do an excellent job in fundraising and are very supportive.”

The fundraising effort at Safeway started July 31 and will continue until Monday, Sept. 2.