KOTA KINABALU: Coalition Duchenne, a leading charity raising funding and awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (Duchenne), will climb Mount Kinabalu as part of its second annual Expedition Mount Kinabalu on August 24-26.
An award winning documentary team from Dreamquest Productions will accompany the international team of 60 climbers, led by the Coalition Duchenne founder Catherine Jayasuriya, whose grandmother was a Kadazandusun and whose 19-year-old son Dusty Brandom has Duchenne.
The documentary, which has the working title “Dusty’s Trail – The Summit of Borneo,” catalogs the inspirational life of Dusty, a young man with Duchenne, and his family’s quest to raise global awareness about the disease.
It is being produced by Present Moment Yogi Productions, a fledgling Californian production company. Filming began in California in July 2012.
The team will be filming at locations in and around Kota Kinabalu and the Kinabalu Park August 19 through September 2.
“Sabah is my home, and it is also a wonderful filming location,” said Catherine. “It has tremendous beauty, a deep cultural diversity, and caring people. Last year, so many Sabahans embraced our cause and our inaugural event. This year, we are excited to return with a film crew and a bigger expedition. Sabah is truly a place where the world can come together to bring change.”
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a progressive muscle wasting disease. It is the most common fatal disease that affects children. Duchenne occurs in 1 in 3,500 male births, across all races, cultures and countries. In Duchenne muscle cells quicklybecome unstable and lose their functionality. Life expectancy ranges from the mid teenage years to the mid 20’s. Minds are unaffected by Duchenne.
“Twenty thousand boys are born each year with Duchenne, more than
50 each day. There are many cases in Malaysia. Most only live into their 20s. We lose many in their teens,” said Catherine. “We need to focus on changing the course of the disease. ‘Dusty’s Trail’ will raise awareness and help fulfill our mission to bring humanity together to find a cure for Duchenne.”
The award winning team from DreamQuest Productions is donating its time to help Catherine fulfill her mission. DreamQuest has over 30 years of experience in the film and television industry. The company produces outdoor adventure shows for network and cable broadcasts and documentary films.
DreamQuest specialises in extreme production environments like the Everest base camp; the 120 degree heat of California’s Death Valley; under the sea 40 meters deep on a sunken freighter in Truk, Micronesia; the icy extremes of Alaska; or the humid jungles of Indonesia.
The leader of the documentary team visiting Sabah is DreamQuest’s president Allan Smith, an award winning producer and director who started his career as a child actor at the age of six, being involved in such films as “Chinatown”, “Day of the Locust” and “They Only Kill Their Masters”.
Allan’s television productions include “Gunsmoke”, “The Brady Bunch”, “Medical Center” and “The Alaskan Experience” and “High Adventure TV”. He is a member of the legendary Explorers Club, and past president of the Los Angeles Adventurers’ Club. He lives in Southern California at the edge of the Mojave Desert.
The team features renowned sound technician Charles “Chuck” Jonkey, a musician/composer and adventurer who loves recording and filming lost and endangered cultures. Chuck has traveled millions of miles to record Amazon sounds, African music, Asian music, primitive music, ritual music, and native drums.
He starred and produced the documentary Exotic Worlds TV which chronicled his global travels in search of world music. He is the owner of Sonic Safari Music and also lives in Southern California.
“I was inspired that Dusty gave a Kadazandusun sompotong to President Obama when the two met in 2011,” said Chuck.
Completing the DreamQuest team is Andrew “Andy” Fink, a graduate of the respected Tribeca Flashpoint Academy of Media Arts and Sciences in Chicago.
Originally from Minnesota, Andy has worked extensively in film editing in Chicago and Los Angeles. Finding comfort behind the camera and in the edit bay, he has worked with Skechers Shoes on numerous short films, commercials and documentaries; one of which was the official selection of the Chicago International Film Festival.
When not telling stories through video, he can be found sailing the open water or willingly getting lost in thought and nature.
Catherine founded Coalition Duchenne in 2011 to raise global awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, to fund research and to find a cure for Duchenne. Coalition Duchenne is a US 501c3 non-profit corporation.
“Coalition Duchenne is a call to action; it is about bringing not just Duchenne charities together, but everyone. It calls for humanity to come together as nations, as people, as individuals, to help. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., ‘We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.’” said Catherine.
Catherine states, “Duchenne is a difficult road, and presents significant challenges along the way. Duchenne steals many things, the ability to walk, to hug, to move, to talk, to breathe, but there is that something inside of you, that it can never get to, that it can never take… Hope.”
“Dusty’s Trail’ will inspire and convey hope. That is our goal and it is a worthy one,” she said. “Mount Kinabalu has been a witness to my life. I always wished I could climb with my son but that was not to be. It is fitting that now we climb to raise awareness for those with Duchenne who cannot climb and this is also a tribute to Dusty’s and my cultural heritage.”