I will describe my biking to a new person and they’ll stare at me with blank eyes and either just think the question or blatantly spit out the question in their disbelief: “Why would you do that?” One of my current labmates has to suffer through renditions of my training progress and my descriptions of a chaffed bum and sore calf always yields the same response: “Everything you tell me about biking does not make me want to bike, ever.”
And yet, I do it.
Not only do I saddle up almost every day regardless of weather, I look forward to it. When benched by an injury or out of town for a family visit or for business, I feel incomplete and lazy because I am not biking. I look forward to mapping out the routes, to thinking of the next big Ride Till You Dye (having already completed RTYD I, RTYD II, and RTYD III). It’s what I have to look forward to after a day of work, even if I am only cruising three miles home. And now I am planning one of my biggest biking endeavors to date in RTYD IV: The Search for More Days, AKA “The Big Ride.”
Pedaling for a Purpose
Growing up, I was raised alongside my adopted brother who had Down’s Syndrome while my mother babysat a non-verbal autistic boy with an enormous infatuation with Dr. Seuss’s The Foot Book.
I have had the misfortune of watching my adopted brother, paternal grandmother, and maternal grandfather pass away after years of suffering from dementia.
Both my maternal grandmother and my mother have fought and won battles with breast cancer.
Finally, we have my research over the years. My undergrad research at Kent State focused on the behavioral, hormonal, and molecular mechanisms of fear generalization–a characteristic associated with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder–and my post-doctoral research at UPenn via The University of Iowa now focuses on mouse models of Autism.
While never personally afflicted, all of these disorders and diseases have affected my life immensely since I was very young in the people whom I have loved and cared for the most. None of them are more important to me than the other and in fact all are reasons why I chose to join the science field. More research and testing is needed but in order to make that possible, you must first have funding.
The Bottom Line
This blog was born January 2017 as a way to get my miles to count for more than just achieving a personal goal and satiating my desire to be uncomfortable and exhausted for days or months on end. The purpose is to raise awareness and funds for causes and the foundations that help to support their research because as a scientist by day, I felt that I could do more even after leaving the lab.
I don’t believe for a second that I can single-handedly provide the donations needed to find a cure for any of these causes but I do believe that I can do my small part and hopefully inspire others to start up their own blog, plan their own ride, and become more active in the search for a cure.
While I hopefully may be able to ride for any or all of these causes at some point in the future, I would ask that you at least be aware of their existence and the incredibly important work that they do.
If or when I am fortunate enough to represent a cause on a ride, I will be sure to post about it on this blog as well as my Twitter (@cycologyphd) and Instagram (@doctorofcycology) feeds and in my bios. But in the meantime, please follow these links and discover a cause that speaks to you.
What can YOU do to help fund for a cure?
- Pink Ribbon International
- Autism Speaks
- Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism
- Autism Science Foundation
- Autism Now
- Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
- Global Down Syndrome Foundation
- National Down Syndrome Society