Published June 6, 2007
By Pat Sunderland
On their first day of a 900-mile trek to Oklahoma City, Okla., Marie Nemec, 63, and Charlotte Reicks, 71, stopped in Delta for lunch. Having read a heartfelt letter to the editor from Will Snowdon, Nellie and Zachary Abner of Cedaredge joined the group at the Lions Pavilion in Confluence Park.
“We had to see them and wish them good luck,” Nellie Abner said.
This is the ninth year the two women have ridden their bikes to the national convention of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. This year, the convention is being held in Oklahoma City June 15-17.
“The amazing thing is, Huntington’s Disease is not in their family,” Will Snowdon noted. He, however, has personally experienced the devastating effects of Huntington’s. His father was struck down in the prime of life, at age 35; his brother died of the disease at age 48. Each child of a Huntington’s Disease parent has a 50-50 chance of inheriting the gene which causes involuntary movements of the arms, legs and face that make walking, talking, eating and swallowing progressively difficult. Changes occur in thinking, judgment and temperament which make keeping a job very challenging, if not impossible. Depression is also common. Onset generally appears at midlife, but can occur in childhood or old age.
Since 1993, a genetic blood test has been available to those at risk, to determine whether or not they carry the Huntington’s Disease gene. Will Snowdon does not.
This year’s ride is titled “Rockies to Plains.” The group left Grand Junction — the home of Marie Nemec and Charlotte Reicks — on May 31. Each day they’ll ride 60 to 65 miles. On the third day of their ride, they were scheduled to cross the Continental Divide on Monarch Pass. From there, their route will take them into southeast Colorado, across the Oklahoma Panhandle, and east to Oklahoma City.
The past eight rides have raised over $317,000 for Huntington’s Disease research and family services. This year Nemec and Reicks hope to push the total of $400,000.
More information on the bike ride, the riders and Huntington’s Disease is available on the Internet at www.bikeforthecure.org.