Saturday, July 18th finally arrived – a grueling and mountainous 101 miles, a punishing 109° Fahrenheit and blazing sun, and our team of 41 cyclists rode our hearts out to earn first place of all the teams participating. The real win, though, was that we were the top fundraising team as well, and exceeded our goal to raise $200,000 to support those in the local community that are struggling with ALS.
Often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs a person of their ability to walk, speak, swallow, and eventually breathe. The life expectancy of a person with ALS averages only 2 to 5 years from the time of diagnosis. In a very short period of time, the person and their family need a myriad of services and support. The ALS Association is their one-stop-shop.
Diagnosed in 2010, Brian Epp (pictured above with David Desharnais, Traxpay CMO) lost the ability to walk, talk, drive, and do most physical tasks without help. He’s sometimes able to communicate with short words (this takes time and effort), but frequently uses a tablet with speech software. What he hasn’t lost is his sense of humor and his passion for life. He’s learned to be patient (something he admits he didn’t always do willingly), learned to adjust to decline and loss, and is always looking for a challenge.
“When people are first diagnosed, things happen so fast you just don’t know what to do, and the local ALS chapter can go a long way to help families, loan medical equipment, and help get us on the right path,” says Brian. He went on to say that “75% of ALS people lose their ability to communicate so that is one of the hardest things.”
Every 90 minutes a person in this country is diagnosed with ALS, and every 90 minutes another person will lose their battle against this disease. ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries. This crippling disease can strike anyone.
Through our connection with friends and the local ALS chapter, we were honored to ride for all those affected by Lou Gehrig’s Disease in our community, and to spread awareness of the urgency to find treatments and ultimately, a cure for ALS.