Photo provided: Marie Nemec (left), Gary Heiman and Charlotte Reicks (right) have already begun their 700-mile bike ride that will include an overnight stop in Fergus Falls.

Archived Story

Seniors bike 700 miles for cause

Published 11:14am Friday, June 17, 2011 Updated 12:46pm Friday, June 17, 2011

Three bicyclists will stop for the night in Fergs Falls on Sunday after completing the eighth leg of a 12-day, 700-mile ride from Belle Fourche, S.D. to Minneapolis to raise awareness for Huntington’s Disease.

“I am the baby of the group at age 67,” said bicyclist Marie Nemec. “One of the others is 72 and the other 75.”

This has been an annual event for Nemec since 1999.

She bases her bike route on the location of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America National Convention, which changes every year.

The convention is in Minneapolis this year, so Nemec designed a route that would allow her to complete her ride in time for the event.

“We’re hitting small-town America this year,” she said. “In the past we’ve gone through big cities, but this year we’re out where there’s 40 miles between towns.”

This route will take the trio into Fergus Falls where they will stay at Grace United Methodist Church.

“Mostly what drew me to Fergus Falls is the Central Lakes Trails,” said Nemec. “I’ve never been there, but I know that rail trails are relatively flat, and there are always towns that are quaint and interesting along the way.”

Nemec first became involved in raising awareness for Huntington’s Disease in 1997 after meeting Carmen Leal, a Christian author whose husband had the disease.

Huntington’s Disease is a hereditary, degenerative brain disorder with no known cure, according to the HDSA web site. This disease slowly diminishes a person’s ability to walk, talk and reason.

People with Huntington’s Disease will eventually become completely dependent on others.

“I don’t like biking enough to do rides like this just for fun,” said Nemec. “I have to have a purpose.”

These annual bike rides have become successful fundraisers.

Nemec has sent out a bulk mailing to around 600 people, and the event website also collects donations.

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