(Posted May 11, 2015)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
In June, Gary Heiman, 76, will hop on a Schwinn he bought in the mid-1990s and pedal 850 miles from Albuquerque, N.M., to Dallas, Texas.
He’ll have company. A handful of other folks on the same mission will saddle up for the long bike ride. Together, their goal is to not just complete the trip, but also raise money and awareness for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA).
“I believe in the cause. I think there is hope in getting a cure,” said Heiman, who is participating in Bike for the Cure for a fifth straight year.
The West Jefferson resident first got involved with the fundraiser at the urging of his wife, Barb, who was a social worker at the OSU Center of Excellence and is now a member of the HDSA Central Ohio chapter board.
Heiman said he signs up for ride year after year partly for the challenge, but mostly for the people—“the people affected by the disease, the people that take care of us during Bike for the Cure, the people that pray for a safe trip, and the people that contribute.”
To prepare for the ride, which this year will average 65 miles a day over 14 days, Heiman mixes inspiration with perspiration. He pedals miles and miles, many of them on the bike path that runs through Madison County, all of them on his 20-year-old bike.
“Everybody’s always asking me when I’m going to upgrade to a new bike that’s lighter,” he said. “I’d have to spend $2,000 to get a bike that weighs 10 pounds less. A friend said, ‘Why spend $2,000? Just lose 10 pounds.’ ”
So, that’s what he did, and then some. Since the beginning of the year, Hei-man has shed 17 pounds.
With his trusty bike and a slimmer silhouette, he’s ready to conquer another Bike for the Cure.
To contribute to the cause, make checks out to HDSA and mail them to 1060 Olmstead Road, West Jefferson, OH 43162, or go to hdsa.org/bikeforthecure to donate online. Funds go toward research, family services, and public aware-ness.
Heiman is happy to answer questions and provide more information. He can be reached at email@example.com, (614) 879-9069, or (614) 439-9223.
This year’s Bike for the Cure runs June 12-25, ending in Dallas, the site of the 30th Annual HDSA Convention.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a neurological, genetic disease passed from parent to child through a mutation on the fourth chromosome. Each child of an HD parent has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the gene which causes degeneration of brain cells, resulting in the loss of ability to walk, think, talk, reason and swallow.
Onset generally appears at midlife but, in some cases, occurs in childhood or in old age. The disease profoundly affects the lives of entire families as the person with HD becomes totally dependent on others for his or her care.
About 1 in 10,000 American have the disease.
For more information about HD, go to www.hdsa.org.