Bike for the Cure – Ride Origin & History

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For those who may be unfamiliar with “Bike for the Cure,” let me digress. In 1997, when the Internet was still in its infancy, Marie 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, she attended the 13th Annual HDSA Convention in Denver, CO. During those three days, she met many people with HD, caregivers, and people at-risk. She was deeply moved. Her Christian faith required action; “… let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). She had to do something, but didn’t know what — yet.

Later on in the Fall of 1998, Marie met Charlotte Reicks, through a mutual friend. She and Evelyn Logan were planning a long-distance bicycle ride across America for the American Bible Society and the Lutheran Hour Ministries. The light went on! Marie asked them if she could join them, and ride for HD, and they said she could! The original duo became a trio, and in 1999 we rode from Santa Monica CA to Arlington VA, to the 14th Annual HDSA National Convention. “Bike for the Cure” became a reality and now an annual tradition.

At the Convention in Arlington VA, Marie met Pat Pillis’ son Kevin Benham, who wanted to join her in 2000 and ride across America. She agreed, and they began to plan, but it became increasingly obvious that Kevin could not keep the commitment, due to some of the soft symptoms of HD.  Marie was so blessed when Scott Springer (a 20 something year old friend of Pat Pillis‘) stepped up and said he would ride, in Kevin’s place. Scott and Marie rode from Santa Monica CA to the Canaveral National Seashore outside Orlando FL. Sadly, Kevin’s HD progressed and he passed away in 2013 in New York State.

Bike for the Cure 2024 is the 24th ride for HD; prior rides include two coast-to-coast rides, Bike for the Cure ’99 and Bike for the Cure 2000. The rest were shorter regional rides; 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 and the KATY Trail), 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 Cactus (Grand Junction CO – Phoenix AZ), Coastin’ to Carolina (Bar Harbor ME – Raleigh NC), Plains to Lakes (Belle Fourche SD – Minneapolis MN), Venture to Vegas (Grand Junction CO – Las Vegas NV), Pedal the Gulf for HD (Galveston TX – Jacksonville FL), Bikin’ the Dixie Highway for HD (Sault Ste. Marie MI – Louisville KY), Bike for the Cure XVII (Albuquerque NM – Dallas TX), Bikin’ the Trails for HD (Pittsburgh PA – Baltimore MD),  Bike for the Cure XIX (Kansas City MO – Schaumberg IL), Bike for the Cure XX (San Francisco CA – Los Angeles CA,) Bike for the Cure 2020 (the Natchez Trace Parkway), Bike for the Cure 2022 (Elizabeth City NC – Savannah GA), and Bike for the Cure 2023 (Texas to New Orleans LA). Over 27,000 miles have been pedaled through parts of 47 states and Washington DC. Our fundraising goal this year is $25,000 to bring the total raised to $900,000 with donations being matched by anonymous donors. In Pittsburgh in 2008, Marie was honored as the recipient of the National Award for Outstanding Fundraising.

These past twenty three rides would not have been possible without the original duo of Charlotte and Marie, plus the sister duo of Sherri and Mary Ann, all of whom have shared in the riding and fundraising. Past riders include Gary Heiman (Plains to Lakes, Venture to Vegas, Pedal the Gulf, Bikin’ the Dixie Highway, Bike for the Cure XVII, and Bikin’ the Trails), Alina del Rio (Bikin’ the Dixie Highway, Bike for the Cure XVII, Bikin’ the Trails, and Bike for the Cure XIX) Amy Mack (Bikin’ the Dixie Highway and Bikin’ the Trails), Sandy Lozier (RIP 2023), (Midwest Meander. Rockies to Plains, and Bike for the Cure XIX), Hope Chynoweth (Pedal the Gulf),  Heather Chynoweth Farmer (Pedal the Gulf), Devon Walker Hatem (Pedal the Gulf), Kathy Lindner (Bikin’ the Dixie Highway), Shana Martin Verstegen (Midwest Meander), Scott Springer (Bike for the Cure 2000), Amanda Adams (Border War), Shane Williams (Border War), John & Marie Elsner (Ramble ‘Round the Colonies),  and Sara Jaramillo and her then seven year old daughter Cassie (Rockies to Plains). Marie’s wonderful husband Ron has been “the wind beneath my wings” over the years, forwarding the Daily Messages on e-mail to over 200 folks and managing our website. Heartfelt gratitude to Jennifer Hickok who designs a new website each year.

Since 1999, each ride has ended at the site of the HDSA National Convention. This year, the National Convention is scheduled for Spokane, WA on May 30 -June 1.

Thanks to all past donors who have helped find a cure! These rides have changed our lives for the better. Marie and Charlotte’s grafting into the HD Community (since it does not run in either of their families) has afforded them and the other riders opportunities to meet the most amazing people we know, and to see so much of the country we love! We are continuing to support “Bike for the Cure” by fundraising and creating awareness.