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Bikers raise funds, awareness for disease

Sunday, June 19, 2005

By Lisa Kaylor

If you see 62-year-old Marie Nemec and 69-year-old Charlotte Reicks riding their bikes toward Thomson today on their way to Washington, Ga., the two ask you to wave.

On June 4 in Wilmington, Del., the women began their trek to the Huntington's Disease Society of America Convention, which will be held Friday through Sunday in Atlanta.

"I wanted to go down the Atlantic coast and see the White House," Ms. Nemec said.

The women, who cycled to Augusta from Bamberg, S.C., on Sunday, tag-team the ride.

While one starts biking, the other moves their minivan to a point 10 miles down the road, Ms. Reicks said.

Each woman bikes about 10 miles at a time, and the team covers between 60 and 70 miles per day.

They stay with churches, Huntington's families and acquaintances along the way.

The purpose of the ride is to raise awareness for Huntington's disease, a hereditary degenerative brain disease that is incurable, and in the process raise funds in the search for a cure, Ms. Reicks said.

"My first concern with the first ride was safety," she said, adding they've never felt unsafe on any of their six previous rides. "People seemed like they wanted to help us get there. I came back from that first trip with a new concept of America."

Ms. Nemec learned of the disease through a friend who lost her husband to it. She had to do something to help others coping with the disease, she said, and with a mutual friend and Ms. Reicks, rode the first "Bike for the Cure" in 1999.

Huntington's disease is strictly hereditary and causes a person to lose bodily control and suffer impaired judgment and thinking.

The women have raised more than $140,000 through their rides, and they hope to reach the $175,000 mark by the end of this trip.

"Usually with Huntington's, from onset of symptoms until death can be 10 to 20 years," Ms. Nemec said. "They have to live with all of this terrible disease for a longer time than say ... Lou Gehrig's disease."

Reach Lisa Kaylor at (706) 724-0851.

From the Monday, June 20, 2005 printed edition of the Augusta Chronicle

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