Through the eyes of Joe Reidy, Alpha and Participant for 25 years: First Autumn Escape to the Cape Bike Trek
September 24, 2021- One afternoon in September of 1996, my son Johnny, my daughter Kathy, her boyfriend Ed and I drove to Cape Cod, Massachusetts to participate with Team Alpha-1 in the bike trek. I was supposed to join a relay team including Fred Walsh. I couldn’t find him Saturday morning. So, “macho” Joe thought to himself “I can do this on my own!” I don’t know what became sorer, my butt or my ego. I managed to go 17 miles (not counting the 2 miles that I got lost) before cramping up. I was the last Alpha and Mary Pierce kept ushering me along. I hated it. I had pledged to do 30 miles and I really wanted to get them in on the first day. I joined a late group including a nurse (Carol) and her son (Chris) who adopted Team Alpha-1. We rode for about eight miles. The last two were just a little hilly. At this point Carol made me stop, she claimed that my lips were blue. (A likely story) So I gave up riding for the day. The chase vehicles picked me up, and we drove to the finishing point for that day. We were served a champion’s dinner including lobster, chicken, steamers and all the varied accompaniments.
The last leg of the trek was into Provincetown. Fred Walsh was riding it on a motorized bike, and I was coaxed into riding on a tandem bike (a bicycle built for two) with Ed, my daughter’s boyfriend. What a mistake! It was harder than riding solo. I couldn’t glide. Whatever speed Ed pedaled I had to keep up or hold my legs astride. After 35 miles of pedaling and having to hold my leg out killed my thighs. Somehow, we made it! I was never so glad to see a finish line! I have listed a few of my fellow Team Alpha-1 riders:
- Cyclist Mary Pierce, a double lung transplant recipient & captain of Team Alpha-1
- Shirley St. Cyr, an Alpha with about 25% lung function (she rode the entire 160 miles using oxygen)
- Dave Dennis, Shirley’s brother, an asymptomatic Alpha. He rode the entire race and had the fastest time of all
- New England Group of Alphas: Judy Mara, Fred Walsh, Julie Bakula, Viki Reed, Wilson Smith, Leigh Smith, Brett H. (who also rode the whole race on oxygen with his young son Barret), Dave and many others.
- Other Notables included John W. Walsh, the President & CEO of the Alpha-1 Foundation, and his wife Diane.
25th year of riding for Team Alpha-1: Team Alpha-1 has held onto the “Silver Spoke” award presented by the American Lung Association (ALA) for the largest team for many years. We have lost many Alphas along the way, but we preserve their spirit with the Alpha Angels patches that each rider wears in someone’s memory.
Though, a lot has remained the same: bike adventures, getting lost throughout the Cape and delicious lobster dinners. One thing is for sure – Team Alpha-1’s commitment to help find a cure for Alpha-1 remains at an all time high.
In the past twenty-five years, Team Alpha-1 has recruited close to 5,000 riders and volunteers from all parts of the country. Those memories made along the Cape are the building blocks of life-long friendships. With the help of social media, Team Alpha-1 has reached thousands of people across the world and helped spread awareness for Alpha-1.
Fred Walsh, Alpha, Foundation Board Member, and Team Alpha-1 rider, said, “It’s a different world out there, but we remain steadfast in funding the research and finding a cure for Alpha 1.”
During the last two years, Team Alpha-1 has had to make the difficult decision to host the bike trek virtually due to the pandemic. Although we are longing to be in Cape Cod, this has allowed others who have always wanted to participate but could not travel, to be a part of Team Alpha-1.
This year Team Alpha-1 will be celebrating virtually on Zoom on Saturday, September 25th, which is also national “Bike Your Park Day”. Joining us will be participants of the first ride, the Alpha-1 community, researchers, doctors, and industry partners. That is just the beginning of the celebration. In true Alpha style, we plan to make it a year-long celebration and close our 25th year riding together by attending next year’s Cape ride to see old friends and meet new ones. We thank the American Lung Association (ALA) who has been a true partner for the past 25 years and without their support we would never be able to accomplish all we did.
If you would like to honor anyone who has ever participated in Riding for a Reason or would like to support the mission, please consider making a donation to: http://give.alpha1.org/RidingforaReason2021
About the Alpha-1 Foundation
Alpha-1 is a genetic (inherited) condition that is passed from parents to their children through their genes. Alpha-1 may result in serious lung disease in adults and/or liver disease at any age. The Alpha-1 Foundation, founded in 1995, is committed to finding a cure for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1) and to improving the lives of people affected by Alpha-1 worldwide. The Foundation has invested over $86 million to support Alpha-1 research and programs at 120 institutions in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia.
For more information, visit www.alpha1.org.
Contact: Jeanne Kushner
Director of Communications & Public Affairs
877-228-7321, ext. 204