Bike for the Cure

Pictured at left, article author Marie Nemec, Charlotte Reicks, Heather Chynoweth, and Gary Heiman.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Bike for the Cure, let me digress. In 1997, when the Internet was still in its infancy, I became aware of Huntington’s Disease through meeting Carmen Leal, author of Faces of Huntington’s and Portraits of Huntington’s, via the Christian Writer’s Group list. In June 1998, at Carmen’s invitation, I attended the 13th Annual HDSA Convention in Denver, CO. During those three days, I met many people with HD, caregivers, and people at-risk. I was deeply moved. My Christian faith required action; “… let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). I had to do something, but didn’t know what — yet.

Later on in the Fall of 1998, I met Charlotte Reicks through a mutual friend. She and Evelyn Logan were planning a long-distrance bicycle ride across America for the American Bible Society and the Lutheran Hour Ministries. The light we on! I asked them if I could join them and ride for HD, and they said I could! The original duo beame a trio, and I rode the first Bike for the Cure ride, from Santa Monica, CA, to Arlington VA, to the 14th Annual HDSA National Convention in 199. What a thrill!

This is Gary Heiman’s third ride for HD (first one was Plains to Lakes in 2011). He is the husband of Barb Heiman, social worker for the Central Ohio Chapter of HDSA. Gary has ridden the Great Ohio Biking Adventure (GOBA) 11 times, and is an experienced rider who logs 2000 miles a year in West Central Ohio. Glad you’re on board, Gary!

Sherri Kole returns for a fifth time. She first joined Charlotte and Marie on the KATY Trail portion of the ride in 2004. She has two special reasons to ride. Her 39 year old son tested positive for the HD gene in 2005, and is now symptomatic. She also has a 4 year old “at-risk” grandson, Boyd. Sherri has completed the two day “STP Classic” from Seattle WA to Portland OR three times. She also rode the last 2/3 of the Midwest Meander as well as Rockies to Plains, and half of Venture to Vegas. She has organized a pit roast fundraiser in Lewiston ID 6 times, with another planned for May 2013. These events have raised close to $100,000 for HD research and family services.

This year we are blessed to have four riders new to Bike for the Cure.

Heather Chynoweth rode the first 12 miles of Venture to Vegas with us last year. She has interacted with patients with HD during her Physician Assistant training in Arizona as well as her present work in Family Practice. Although she is new to long distance riding, she has ridden quite a bit in Western Colorado (Vail Pass and Glenwood Canyon) as well as Brechen ridge near the Continental Divide. Her medical experience will be a plus with so many riders this year! Welcome aboard, Heather!

Hope Chynoweth is another of our “newbies.” She is the younger sister of Heather and a music teacher. Hope graduated from Colorado Mesa University in May 2012 with a degree in Liberal Arts:/Music. This ride will be a new experience for her, as she has only done one-day trips in Western Colorado before this year. She heard about this ride through Heather and believes it will be an excellent opportunity to support the HD cause and expand her riding experience.

Devon Walker comes from an HD family. A native Ohioan, she graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University where she majored in Early Childhood Education. Currently she teaches Kindergarten in Hilliard OH. Devon is a Board Member of the Central Ohio Chapter of HDSA. This is her first long distance bicycle ride. She is riding for her grandma, great uncle, and uncle who have all been affected by HD.

Mary Ann Taylor is Sherri’s sister. An avid tennis player and golfer, she and her husband Scott split their time between Hemet, CA (where she is a substitute teacher) and Truckee, CA (where they live in the summer). She cross trains in spinning classes and did one of the STP rides with Sherri. Mary Ann is riding to raise funds for research to help to find a cure for her nephew Dustin, who has HD.

Each year, the ride ends at the site of the HDSA National Convention. Pedal the Gulf is the fifteenth ride for HD; prior rides include two coast-to-coast rides Bike for the Cure ’99 and Bike for the Cure 2000, Border War on HD (Vancouver, BC, Canada — Tijuana, Mexico), Ramble ‘Round the Colonies (Manchester NH – Columbus OH), Trek Across Texas (Texline – Houston), Kick HD on Route 66 (Albuquerque NM – St. Louis MO), Coastin’ for HD (Wilmington DE – Atlanta GA), Midwest Meander for HD (Kearney NE – Milwaukee WI and Chicago IL – St. Louis MO), Rockies to Plains (Grand Junction CO – Oklahoma City OK), Cycle the Heartland (Clinton MO – Pittsburgh PA), Canyons to Cactusb (Grand Junction CO – Phoenix AZ), Coastin’ to Carolina (Bar Harbor ME – Raleigh NC),  Plains to Lakes (Belle Fourche SD – Minneapolis MN), and Venture to Vegas (Grand Junction CO – Las Vegas NV). Over 21,000 miles have been pedaled, through parts of 46 states and Washington DC. Our fundraising goal is $51,000 to bring the total raised to $600,000.

— by Marie Nemec