Even though the bike trek started with heavy hearts due to the very recent passing of two amazing Alpha volunteers, Susan Binnall and Alyce Yout, Team Alpha-1 pushed through and dedicated the ride to them: “Alyce & Sue This Rides for You.” Their love for the community shone through in the sunshine experienced every day on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
"The Cape’s scrub pines, cranberry bogs, Atlantic Ocean breakers, its salt flats teeming with wildlife, towering, grass capped dunes and vast tidal pools are but a few of the environs that make our annual bike trek so exceptionally beautiful. More beautiful still? The sight of purple clad Alpha riders, breezing along in packs, biking as much as each of them can through that landscape. Whether on a rental, an insect thin racing bike, a tandem or, with the aid of oxygen, my pokey electric bike, we ride. When coasting along a stretch of forest trail or powering up a gentle hill, there is no better antidote to living with a handicap than biking and biking for Alpha-1 awareness, hope and fundraising, well, what could be better than that?" said, Richard Lovrich, a ZZ Alpha and volunteer.
A picturesque scenic coast line joined 82 riders and 80 volunteers for the annual Escape to the Cape Bike Trek, a 160-mile-3-day family event to help raise funds for Alpha-1, from Plymouth to Provincetown, MA. Also, this year marked the 24th anniversary of the Alpha-1 Foundation’s participation in this event with the American Lung Association of the Northeast (ALA).
"Every fall my family gets involved with the Escape to the Cape Bike Trek, which is a major fundraiser for the ALA and the Alpha-1 Foundation's Building Friends for Cure program. As many of you know, my dad, uncle, aunt, and grandmother all suffer(ed) from the genetic form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) known as Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1). This hereditary condition is passed from parents to their children (one gene from each parent) and may result in serious lung disease in adults and/or liver disease at various ages in life. I ride in memory of my uncle John, buddy, and the many other Alpha angels we have lost over the years. Let’s find a cure!" said Chase Walsh, daughter of Fred Walsh.
A part of the Foundation’s Building Friends for a Cure program, Escape to the Cape brings out the best in all who participate, the healthier folks take care of those who struggle with Alpha-1 and the more experienced riders encourage those who are coming up the ranks to participate and get to know the Alpha-1 community.
"How much can you accomplish in a simple weekend away on Cape Cod? I ask myself how my Alpha friends and family do it all? They do it with the help of our amazing volunteers, our industry and community partners all working together. Special thanks to AlphaNet, CSL Behring, Eversana, Grifols, Takeda, our community partners at the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM) at Boston University, and our new team this year, Apic Bio. All these folks came to the Cape to raise awareness and funds for the Alpha-1 community and they accomplished that and so much more," said Angela McBride, director of corporate relations & community engagement at the Foundation.
"What an amazing 3 days of biking in the Cape alongside fellow Alphas, doctors, nurses, and friends, all supporting and encouraging each other along the route. At each rest stop, we were greeted by enthusiastic volunteers, cheering us on and treating us like royalty. Thank you! A very well-orchestrated event. We will be back next year!” said Janice and Bill Dye, from Indiana.
“This was my first year participating in the event. What struck me most was the enthusiasm and camaraderie of Team Alpha-1. There’s just something special about meeting fellow Alphas, especially when the purpose of the event is to help fund the cure. I'm already looking forward to next year,” said Jon Hagstrom, first-time rider from New York, a ZZ Alpha diagnosed in 2008 who underwent a double-lung transplant in 2016.
“I was unable to attend this year’s Escape to the Cape Bike Trek because of my Alpha-1, but I had strong support from members of my family. Five of them worked as volunteers for the event and a sixth, my brother-in-law Tom Dombrowski, rode the 160-mile trip over three days and was the top individual fundraiser of all the teams. He rode for me and in memory of my late brother Kevin, an Alpha who passed away 5 years ago. The assistance I received from friends and family is a blessing. They believe in our cause and their involvement reflects their support for the message of hope that John Walsh instilled in all Alphas: 'Keep the faith.' They really stepped up this year and will continue to work for us until a cure is found,” said Patsy Masterson, an Alpha from Rhode Island.
The highlight of the evening was when Team Alpha-1 received the Silver Spoke award for the largest team and the announcement that the ALA would honor a very special volunteer. Susan Binnall was a longtime champion, volunteering with the Foundation to help raise awareness and funds for lung disease. She was an extremely passionate member of Team Alpha-1 and a strong advocate for lung health.
The award will be a perpetual plaque displayed in the local American Lung Association office as well as a certificate given to the recipient each year.
Plans are already underway for next year’s event, September 25th-27th, 2020. If you are interested in participating, please contact Angela McBride at email@example.com.
Enjoy these magnificent photos by Richard Lovrich, an avid photographer and volunteer for the Alpha-1 Foundation.
Thank you to our Escape to the Cape Committee: Gordon and Ruth Cadwgan, Sheila Favazza, Joe Reidy, Richard Lovrich, Lois and Kevin Slusser, and Fred Walsh.