(Posted March 31, 2016)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The route is shorter this year, but no less challenging.
For the sixth straight year, West Jefferson resident Gary Heiman is participating in Bike for the Cure to benefit the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA). He and five other cyclists from around the country, including a woman who has the disease, will pedal from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Baltimore, Md., May 20-June 2.
They will make their way along the Great Allegheny Passage, the C&O Canal Towpath, and the East Coast Greenway.
Each year, the route is different, but always ends at the site of the annual HDSA convention. In the past, participants have covered as many as 1,000 miles. This year, the total is 400 miles, but instead of pavement, the surface for much of the way is crushed limestone.
“We’ll get dust in our gears, and it will be hard to make turns. We’re going to need bigger tires than usual,” Heiman said.
To train, Heiman is putting in the miles in and around Madison County, much of it on the bike path. He is outfitting his bike with the bigger tires ahead of time to acclimate. He also hopes to shed a few pounds by May to make a lighter go of it.
“I’m always looking for people to train with because riding solo is for the birds,” he said.
He’s also seeking donations. Last year, he raised $4,500 for the cause. He hopes to do the same this year. Altogether, last year’s participants raised over $20,000.
“Madison County has been good to us. I thank them on behalf of HDSA,” Heiman said.
To contribute, make checks out to “Huntington’s Disease Society of America: and mail them to Heiman at 1060 Olmstead Road, West Jefferson, OH 43162, or to Bike For the Cure for HD 2016, c/o Marie Nemec, 3087-A 1/2 Road, Grand Junction, CO 81503-9678.
Donations also can be made online at www.hdsa.org/bikeforthecure. Funds go toward research, family services, and public awareness.
Heiman 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.
As for what motivates him to continue his participation, Heiman said, “I really enjoy cycling, and if I can help HDSA by going out and doing something I enjoy, I’m going to do it.”
For more information, contact Heiman at firstname.lastname@example.org, (614) 879-9069, or (614) 439-9223.
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 has the disease.
For more information about Hunting-ton’s disease and the foundation, go to www.hdsa.org.