Women ready to head out again for worthy cause
By CASSIE HEWLINGS The Daily Sentinel
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Marie Nemec, 63, and Charlotte Reicks, 72, are road warriors of a different breed.
They don't road trip to the beach in an overstuffed RV towing a boat. The freedom of the open road is not their backseat driver.
This year marks Nemec's ninth time and Reicks' eighth time riding bikes across the country for Bike for the Cure. They ride for the freedom of those afflicted by Huntington's Disease, to raise awareness and money for a cure for the genetic neurological disorder.
The two are gearing up for this year's bike trek, dubbed 'Rockies to Plains 2007' and a send-off breakfast and public bike ride is planned for 6:30 a.m. May 31 at Eagle Rim Park, 2746 Cheyenne Drive.
The ride will take the women across southern Colorado and concludes in Oklahoma City on June 14 at the 22nd annual national convention of the Huntington's Disease Society of America.
"I never thought we'd still be doing this," Reicks said. "The reason I think we keep at this through the many aches and pains we have these days is because once you meet a person who has Huntington's Disease, you can't just walk away."
Nemec, a self-described "grandmother type who bakes cookies," said she prays for everyone she meets along the way when the ride gets tough. She just tries to take one day at a time to avoid being overwhelmed, she said.
Judy Luebke, a Grand Junction woman whose husband has lost three siblings to Huntington's, said she is amazed by the dedication Nemec and Reicks have for fighting the disease.
Since the first ride in 1999, the two women have raised more than $317,000 to combat Huntington's. Thus far, they have raised $9,000 for 2007, which will be tripled by anonymous donors through the society's Research Matching Gifts Challenge Fund.
Having ridden from Delaware to Atlanta, Ga., and Canada to Mexico in previous rides, 2007 is the first year the women will be starting from Grand Junction. In addition, this year a couple other riders will join the ride.
Sandy Lozier, 50, from Elkhorn, Neb., will ride the whole tour, and Sherri Kole, 51, from Lewiston, Idaho, will join the team between Pueblo and La Junta. Both women have lost family members to Huntington's.
According to the society's Web site, http://www.hdsa.org/, Huntington's is a degenerative, genetic brain disease, which makes motor function progressively difficult once onset occurs and for which there is no cure. The disease typically sets in at mid-life, but can occur in childhood or old age, albeit less frequently.
"What these ladies do is inspiring," said Chris Brown, owner of Brown Cycles and supporter of Nemec and Reicks. "We need more people in the world doing big things. It's a fun way to live when you have everyone doing big things around you."
Cassie Hewlings can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
Rockies to Plains
Web site: http://www.bikeforthecure.org/. Donations: Send to Rockies to Plains 2007, c/o Marie Nemec, 3087 A 1/2 Road, Grand Junction 81503-9678. Donations made payable to the Huntington's Disease Society of America HDSA Research Matching Gifts Challenge Fund will be tripled.