In 1997, Marie Nemec became aware of HD through meeting Carmen Leal, author of Faces of Huntington’s, on the Christian Writer’s Group list on the Internet. In June 1998, at Carmen’s invitation, Marie attended the 13th Annual HDSA Convention in Denver, CO. After this experience, she was deeply touched. Her Christian faith required action; “… let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). Marie and Charlotte met through a mutual friend, and the trio rode across America together in 1999. In 2008, Marie joined Charlotte as a “Bicycling Grandma,” with the birth of her first grandson. Two years later, a second grandson was born when Charlotte and Marie were on the transpeninsular border of Delaware and Maryland on the “Coastin’ to Carolina” ride. Marie, the only 19 year ride veteran, will continue to ride tag-team with Charlotte, and they will alternate driving Marie’s SAG van.
Charlotte Reicks first learned about and began bicycling for families with Huntington’s Disease in 1999 when Marie Nemec joined her and a friend for their first coast-to-coast ride from Pacific Ocean to Atlantic Ocean (3000 miles). It was Marie’s plan to pass out information and collect donations for HD while Charlotte and her friend Evelyn planned to bicycle for The American Bible Society, passing out literature. Only 2 days into the ride, these two causes became combined for Charlotte with an unforgettable meeting with a woman in California who had HD, Nita Giles. Nita could not eat or speak and was confined to a wheelchair. It was then she realized the enormity and devastation of HD and it was at that moment that her ride also became a ride for HD, and to her great surprise, she learned from Marie that they had HD families in Grand Junction. At that time, a new HD Support Group was beginning in Grand Junction and Charlotte became involved. That first ride across America was memorable for meeting other HD families along the way, experiencing the surprising generosity of people handing us donations, and for encountering churches of all denominations who took them in overnight. That ride was doubly difficult for they carried all their gear on their bicycles, up and down all kinds of terrain, in all kinds of weather, but such a blessing from God. Little did they know that although this was their first bicycle ride for HD and Charlotte thought their last, God had more planned for them!
This is Charlotte’s 26th year of cross country bicycling for a charity. It began back in 1992 with a ride across Colorado, from Utah to Kansas. Charlotte’s family has been her support: two sons, one daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. Every year, Charlotte arranges for our overnight stays during the ride. She was a teacher for 25 years in Michigan, at Grand Junction High School, and at Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University). The past 20 years Charlotte has been a legal secretary and now is a medical transcriptionist. She uses her bicycle as her primary means of transportation around GJ. She is an original “Bicycling Grandma,” and is still our “energizer bunny,” the oldest of the riders. Her three grands are now adults in their 20’s and 30’s.
This year we are again blessed to have the sister team of Sherri Kole and Mary Ann Taylor. This is Sherri’s ninth “Bike for the Cure” ride. She has completed the 2-day “STP Classic” from Seattle WA to Portland OR three times as well. Sherri is one of our major fundraisers: she put on a pig roast in Lewiston ID seven times. These events raised close to $100,000. Sherri is a substitute teacher in Lewiston. She has two special reasons to ride. Her 44 year old son tested positive for the HD gene 13 years ago, and is now symptomatic. She also has an 9 year old “at-risk” grandson, Boyd.
Mary Ann is an avid golfer and tennis player. She and her husband Scott split their time between Hemet CA (where is is a substitute teacher) and Truckee CA (where she is the pro shop buyer and merchandiser at a golf course). She is the proud grandma of two pre-school granddaughters. She cross-trains in spinning classes, too. Mary Ann did one “STP Classic” ride with Sherri. this is her fourth “Bike for the Cure” ride to raise funds for research to help find a cure for her nephew Dustin, who has HD. Welcome back, Mary Ann and Sherri!
So, this year we have four “Bicycling Grandmas.”
Rounding out our riding group is Heather Chynoweth Farmer. Heather rode the first 12 miles of Venture to Vegas in 2012, and in 2013 she rode the whole “Pedal the Gulf” ride with us. She has interacted with patients with HD during her Physician Assistant training in Arizona as well as her present work in Family Practice. In 2014 Heather married Justin Farmer. Her medical experience will be a plus! Welcome back, Heather, after a five year hiatus.