For the founders of the ALS Bike Trek in Minnesota, the event is so much more than just a ride in the park.
Founder Justin Rumley lost his dad, Steve, to ALS in 2009. Rett Landers’s brother, Jim, passed from Lou Gehrig’s disease on Thanksgiving in 2008. And Everett Myers’s father, Victor, died just 26 months after being diagnosed with ALS.
For the three friends, the ride is about honoring their family members and raising funds for research so others don’t have to experience what they and their loved ones went through.
“I’d like to ride a big old fat bike all over the disease and bury it so deep that is will never appear in anyone again,” Myers says.
That’s exactly what crowds of bicyclists will be doing at the seventh annual ALS Bike Trek in Minnesota. The ride will take place on May 21, starting at Big Marine Park Reserve in Marine on St. Croix, MN.
The ride, which offers 14-, 34- and 52-mile loops, will raise money for both Augie’s Quest and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The trek’s goal this year is $300,000 to boost research, raise awareness and support those who live with muscle-debilitating diseases.
A Promise Kept
Rumley’s resolve to make a difference began almost immediately after his father’s diagnosis
“I made a promise to my father that I was going to raise money and awareness until there was either a cure or I am no longer able,” Rumley says.
An avid cyclist and runner, Rumley ran two half-marathons in Des Moines to raise money and participated in the Tri-State Trek to End ALS.
Rumley’s father, meanwhile, worried his son was too focused and told him to stop working so hard and just enjoy life. But Rumley had found his passion and purpose.
“My dad knew no matter what he says I was going to continue on this path,” Rumley says. “So he gave me a big smile and his thumbs up since he no longer could talk.”
Rather than slow down, Rumley ramped up his efforts to create his own awareness-building and fundraising event. Early on, he connected with Myers and Landers, and together with other supporters, they launched ALS Bike Trek Minnesota.
Seven years later, the ride is still going strong and has already raised more than $644,000 to fight muscle disease.
An Extended Family
“We all know the seriousness of ALS. But the Bike Trek team – which is much bigger than Justin, Everett, or me – chooses to create an event that unites our unique community and makes it a celebration of life,” Landers says.
They want this year’s event to not only raise money but also be safe and fun, Landers says. And they hope the event will continue to grow.
The trek was developed as a blueprint that others could use, Rumley says. They want cyclists across the country to ride their bikes all over muscle disease and give those who live with it, and their loved ones, hope for a better future.
“I know with the collective positive work that is the ALS Bike Trek MN, I will see the day when mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, and all their extended families and friends, can live with more hope and less despair upon hearing the words ALS in the diagnosis of a loved one for the first time,” Myers says.
Want to ride in the ALS Bike Trek MN? Register here!