Eleven members of a fraternity at Western Kentucky University are bicycling across the country for more than two months this summer to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s.
Members of the WKU chapter of the fraternity FIJI are biking from San Francisco to Virginia Beach for their annual philanthropy project called Bike4ALZ. The group will average 60 miles per day.
Planning for the event started in October, when the team was chosen by members of the fraternity through an application process. The cyclists then started training and getting sponsorships.
Matthew Crawford is one of the bicyclists. His grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about a year ago and a family friend has been suffering from dementia. So Crawford says he knows first-hand the effects of these illnesses that cause devastating memory loss.
“Linden, he was diagnosed with dementia I think it was about five years ago," said Crawford. "I’ve seen how he’s been affected throughout his life. I’ve seen him when he was in tip-top shape, and I’ve seen him when he couldn’t remember my name.” .
Crawford said he’s making the bicycle trip as a tribute to his grandmother and his friend.
Ethan Hunt is another cyclist. He says he is expecting to hear stories about how families have been affected by Alzheimer’s at events along the ride.
“I think when we get on our bikes that first day in San Francisco, it’s going to hit us and we’re going to realize that this is here. I’m excited for it. I know there’s going to be a lot of adventure throughout the summer and a lot of just being able to talk to people and being able to hear their stories,” Hunt said.
The bicycle group is leaving Bowling Green on May 14 and driving with their bicycles and equipment to San Francisco, where the ride begins. During the ride across country they’ll meet and stay with some other members of the fraternity. The WKU group will arrive in Virginia Beach on July 23.