In 1997, Marie Nemec became aware of HD through meeting Carmen Leal, author of Faces of Huntington’s, on the Christian Writer’s Group list on the Internet. In June 1998, at Carmen’s invitation, Marie attended the 13th Annual HDSA Convention in Denver, CO. After this experience, she was deeply touched. Her Christian faith required action; “… let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). Marie and Charlotte met through a mutual friend, and the trio rode across America together in 1999. Arrival at the National Convention has become an annual rite. Marie, the only 16 year ride veteran, will primarily drive the SAG van.
Charlotte Reicks first learned about and began bicycling for families with Huntington’s Disease in 1999 when Marie Nemec joined her and a friend for their first coast-to-coast ride from Pacific Ocean to Atlantic Ocean (3000 miles). It was Marie’s plan to pass out information and collect donations for HD while Charlotte’s friend and she planned to bicycle for The American Bible Society, passing out literature. Only 2 days into the ride, these two causes became combined for Charlotte with an unforgettable meeting with a woman in California who had HD. She could not eat or speak and was confined to a wheelchair. It was then she realized the enormity and devastation of HD AND It was at that moment that her ride also became a ride for HD, and to her great surprise, she learned from Marie that they had HD families in Grand Junction. At that time, a new HD Support Group was beginning in Grand Junction and Charlotte became involved. That first ride across America was memorable for meeting other HD families along the way, experiencing the surprising generosity of people handing us donations, and for encountering churches of all denominations who took them in overnight. That ride was doubly difficult for they carried all their gear on their bicycles, up and down all kinds of terrain, in all kinds of weather, but such a blessing from God. Little did they know that although this was their first bicycle ride for HD and Charlotte thought their last, God had more planned for them!
This is Charlotte’s 22nd year of cross country bicycling for a charity. It began back in 1992 with a ride across Colorado, from Utah to Kansas. Charlotte’s family has been her support: two sons, one daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. Every year, Charlotte arranges for our overnight stays during the ride. She was a teacher for 25 years in Michigan, at Grand Junction High School, and at Mesa College (now Colorado Mesa University). The past 20 years Charlotte has been a legal secretary, a medical transcriptionist, and is presently transcribing trial testimony for the Mesa County (Colorado) courts.
This is Gary Heiman’s fourth ride for HD (first in 2011). He is the husband of Barb Heiman, Social Worker with the HDSA Central Ohio Chapter and the Ohio State University Center of Excellence. Gary has ridden the Great Ohio Biking Adventure (GOBA) eleven times, and is an experienced rider whose bicycle cyclometer will hit 43,000 miles by June. He rode his first “Century” (bicyclist jargon for a 100 mile ride) last year during the “Pedal the Gulf” ride. Gary is a proud Air Force Blue Beret veteran as well.
Devon Walker also returns as a “seasoned rider.” This will be her second long distance bicycle ride, as she rode “Pedal the Gulf for HD” last year. She comes from an HD family. A native Ohioan, she graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University where she majored in Early Childhood Education. Currently she teaches kindergarten in Marion OH. Devon is the VP on the Board of the Central Ohio Chapter of HDSA. She is riding for her grandma, great uncle, and uncle who have all been affected by HD.
This year we are blessed to have two riders from Michigan join our team.
Amy Mack’s bicycle riding experience spans more than 20 years. When her family received the news in 2009 that the father of her children was diagnosed with HD (they had no idea this was in his genetic makeup), she became determined to combine her cycling passion with her desire to help create awareness and raise awareness and funds for HD. In 2011, Amy rode from Portland ME to Daytona Beach FL (over 1600 miles) to raise awareness and funds for HD. Her previous cycling experience includes a coast to coast ride in 2008 after a horrendous cycling accident in which she was left with 7 broken bones, 4 of which were vertebrae. Part of her recovery has been having her passion for riding reignited by this heartfelt desire to help make a difference.
Although Kathy Lindner logs thousands of miles each year biking to work and back, this will be her first “long” ride. The plight of HD families has touched Kathy through some close friends (gene positive, and at-risk), so she is donating her time and lots of energy to join the urgent mission for awareness and a cure via her bike. Kathy has a BA in Social Work, but has played with young children most of her adult life. She has nurtured, played with, read to, sang to and danced with small children as a childcare provider, paraprofessional, lead preschool teacher and more over the years. Her many passions include: fitness, walking her dogs, enjoying nature, playing piano for church, photography, reading, line-dancing, scrap-booking, camping, and spending time with family and friends. Kathy has been blessed with an amazing, beautiful and loving family of 5 grown children (two “step”), a son-in-law, and three grandchildren, with her husband of twenty-five years, Al. Kathy believes the ride will be a great way to serve God using her strengths of being a people-person, fitness aficionado, and compassionate soul to help win the fight against HD for her loved ones.
Alina del Rio
Last, but not least, Alina Del Rio will join us for the last 2 1/2 days (from Indianapolis to Louisville). Alina is a writer and decorator from Brooklyn, NY. She is also gene positive. This is Alina’s first bicycle ride for charity. Her motto is “Making a difference one mile at a time.”