Plains to Lakes

On the Road

"On the Road Again for Huntington's"

Charlotte Reicks and Marie Nemec bike cross country
each spring to help raise awareness and funds
to fight Huntinton's Disease.

Posted in the May 2011 issue of the BEACON
By Marie Nemec


"On the Road Again, Just can't wait to get on the road again..."

These memorable words by Willie Nelson are the mantra of Charlotte Reicks and Marie Nemec, two seasoned long distance bicyclists from Grand Junction.

Since 1999, they have gone "on the road" every spring, through portions of 42 states, raising awareness and funds for Huntington's Disease (HD). This year's ride called "Plains to Lakes" is from Belle Fourche, South Dakota to Minneapolis, Minnesota. This year Reicks and Nemec will be joined by 72 year-old Gary Heiman from Ohio.

HD is a neurological genetic familial disease, passed from parent to child through a mutation on the short arm of the fourth chromosome. Each child of an HD parent has a 50/50 chance of inheriting the gene, which causes degeneration of brain cells, resulting in the loss of the ability to walk, think clearly, talk, reason, control bowel and bladder, and swallow.

The onset generally appears at midlife, but in some onset occurs in childhood or in old age. The disease profoundly afects the lives of entire families, as the person with HD becomes totally dependent on others for his or her care.

In 1997, Nemec became aware of HD through meeting Carment Leal, the author of the book, Faces of Huntington's. In June 1998, Nemec attended the National Convention in Denver. She was profoundly influenced by those she met there, and her faith tugged at her to "do something" for these people.

This "something" evolved into an annal long distance bicycle ride for HD. Reicks and Nemec claim Woodey Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land," as their theme song, as they have seen many historical monuments and natural wonders during their cross-country ride. Woody Guthrie died from HD in 1967.

Later that year, his widow Marjorie Guthrie, founded the Committee to Combat Huntington's Disease, which later evolved into the Huntington's Disease Society of America.

Reicks, 75 and Nemec, 67 are slowing down, but their desire to help raise awareness and funds for HD research and family services has not decreased. They have already raised in excess of $500,000 and hope to raise another $12,000 this year.

A free kick-off breakfast will be held on Saturday, June 4 from 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. at Hawthorne Park, located on Gunnison Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Streets.

For More iformation on HD and the "Plains to Lakes" ride, visit