Bicyclists with JettRide began a 750-mile journey in Curtice heading toward New Jersey. Along the way, the group is raising awareness and funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a form of the disease that affects boys.
MASSILLON Four days into a 750-mile journey, bicyclists with a mission jetted into town.
The group of 9 teens and young adults and three adult leaders are on a cross-country cycling tour raising funds and awareness for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a form of MD that mostly affects boys.
Part of the Jett Foundation, JettRide will power through five states — Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and New Jersey — over 16 days, riding for those who can’t. The foundation’s mission is to increase awareness of Duchenne by raising funding for research towad cure, while providing those affected with the disorder the opportunity to enjoy a full life.
“We move our legs because they can’t move theirs,” 19-year-old Ally Edwards said.
Edwards, of Toms River, N.J., is on the trip with her 14-year-old sister, Olivia. They are riding for their 13-year-old brother, Tanner.
Tanner was diagnosed with the disease at 3.
“He can’t stand. He can’t lift his arms to get food to his mouth,” the elder Edwards said. “Our mom is with him 24/7.”
Duchenne is a progressive muscle disorder which causes a loss of muscle function. As someone who is diagnosed with the disorder gets older their muscles weaken, making it harder for them to walk. Respiratory and heart functions suffer.
“Unfortunately, there is no cure,” Gary Rice, a program leader said. “We ride to raise awareness and funds for Duchenne.”
The group began their trek in Curtice near Toledo on Wednesday. They are making their way to Point Pleasant, N.J., staying with host families and others who open their hearts to the riders.
After a stop in Canal Fulton on Sunday for an ice cream cone at Oser’s, the group traveled the Towpath Trail with Canal Fulton City Manager Mark Cozy leading the way to Massillon. The group sought shelter at the Massillon Rec Center before heading on to Minerva on Monday to stay with another host family, whose son suffers from the disorder.
Rice said the stops they make along the way with families impacted by the disorder is inspiring. It shows them someone cares.
The riders will continue through Ohio and into Pennsylvania, making stops along the way in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Gettysburg.
They ride eight or more hours a day, stopping for breaks, snacks and lunch before arriving at their nightly stop. Rice said the kids get to have some fun along the way.
Riders admit the days can be long, and the journey exhausting.
Emily Quitzau, of Mansfield, Mass., thought Ohio would be flatter, but is powering through the tough ride for her brother, 15-year-old Calvin, who has been living with Duchenne for 10 years.
“It’s taught me that life can be tough, but there are a lot worse things,” she said. “You just have to push through it.”
This is her second ride with the organization.
Calvin Wardle, of Wilton, Conn., was a late addition to the group — signing up just two days before they began.
A student at the University of Connecticut, the 20-year-old learned of the JettRide after volunteering at Camp Promise, a Jett Foundation-sponsored camp for kids with muscular disorders.
The physiology and neurobiology student had heard of Duchenne from a text book, but had no real contact with it until he went to camp.
“I made a lot of friends at the camp and learned about the ride,” he said. “We are able to spread awareness. My parents are so proud. They send a daily text telling me how proud they are of me. “
The group has raised more than $15,000 so far. To learn more about JettRide, visit jettride.com.
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