Bike 4 Alz group passes through Steamboat Springs
A few minutes before 4 p.m. Monday, more than a dozen people gathered on the shady patio at Casey’s Pond in Steamboat Springs. Some residents were wheeled down to a shady spot closer to the pond, and one zipped her motorized mobility scooter down to the path around the pond and waited in the shade.
“Here they come,” a woman shouted, pointing to U.S. Highway 40.
A pack of cyclists crossed the road, visible across the pond. They pedaled their way to Casey’s Pond and did a lap around the pond as the residents and a few workers clapped and cheered.
The group of young men are biking across the country as a part of Bike for Alz, which is short for Alzheimer’s. They are making pit stops along the way at various senior living facilities to interact with the people for whom they are raising money and awareness.
“This is just one of our stops; we’re stopping in cities across the country,” Trey Sims said. “This is on our route, Steamboat Springs. Then I found Casey’s Pond online and thought it would be cool to do an event here since we’re raising money for Alzheimer’s research.”
“It’s a good reminder for us of why we ride,” Justin Geilear added. “Some of us don’t have a personal connection to Alzheimer’s. Over half the team does, but for those who don’t, this is a very nice reminder.”
Bike 4 Alz began in 2010 when Tyler Jury lost his grandfather Barret Cummings to Alzheimer’s. Jury and five of his fraternity brothers decided to bike across the country to raise money for the American Alzheimer’s Association. So far, through 10 years and eight rides, Bike 4 Alz has raised nearly $400,000 for Alzheimer’s research.
One in nine people age 65 or older have Alzheimer’s dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association website. In 2021, an estimated 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia.
The group of 14 young men who cycled through town this week are from Western Kentucky University, and they are biking from San Francisco, California, to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Along the way, they’ll stay with hosts and hold fundraising events. They are called team nine, since they are the ninth group to ride across the United States with Bike 4 Alz.
More than half the group wanted to do the ride last year but couldn’t with the pandemic.
“We started in San Francisco and stopped in many cities along the way and talked to a lot of people,” Sims said. “It seems like maybe seven times out of 10, someone who just came up and talked to us say they’ve been affected somehow by Alzheimers.”
At Casey’s Pond, the group said hello to the residents and explained what they were doing and why. They also were treated to a lunch and enjoyed a few calm moments off their bikes and in the shade next to the pond. Residents and staff thanked them for their hard work in biking and raising funds.
They told the group about Dedicate a Day, a program that allows them to nominate someone with Alzheimer’s that the group will ride for and think of during the day. They ask for a specific suggested day and a little information about the person. To submit someone to dedicate a day or ride to, visit Bike4Alz.org/dedicate-a-day.
The group stayed at Holy Name Catholic Church on Monday night and took off up Rabbit Ears Pass on Tuesday morning for what they suspect to be their hardest day of their entire trip.
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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