According to Google Maps, it would take 40 hours to drive from the iconic Space Needle in Seattle to the heart of Downtown Brooklyn.
But why bother driving when you could ride a bike?
That’s the mindset of a group of cyclists supporting the Chris Carrino Foundation for FSHD (Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy).
The Coast to Coast for FSHD ride is a 54-day, 4,200-mile journey that covers 46 cities and 15 states. It is set to wrap up July 19, when the cyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge and ride the final stretch to Barclays Center.
The cross-country ride – twice as long as the ongoing Tour de France – is helping to raise awareness and funds to battle FSHD, the most common form of muscular dystrophy that has no known treatment or cure.
Carrino is a well-known sportscaster who recently completed his 16th season as the radio voice of the Brooklyn Nets. He was diagnosed with FSHD after college and established his 501(c)(3) charity organization in 2011.
“This tour is designed to connect with the FSHD community, researchers and local media in order to raise awareness, money for research and hope for all those touched by FSHD,” said Carrino, who is an advocate for all those battling the muscle disorder.
The ride began May 27 in Seattle, traversed down the West Coast and continued through the middle of the country. Along the way, the group of riders stopped at numerous hospitals and research centers in major cities to interact with those affected by FSHD and doctors who are diligently trying to find a cure.
The team of over a dozen bicyclists is led by Frank P. Carbone, the former athletic director at St. Joseph’s College Brooklyn, Clinton Hill, and a longtime parishioner and current academy board member of St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy, Greenpoint.
Though his first love has always been basketball, cycling has been a recreational hobby for Carbone for quite some time. Back in 1996, he organized the Bike for Life, a cross-country journey designed to celebrate St. Stan’s centennial celebration. He has also led several bike tours both domestically and internationally.
Carbone and Carrino linked up five years ago when Carbone coached Carrino’s niece Samantha on the St. Joe’s women’s basketball team. The wheels began spinning – literally and figuratively – on this cross-country ride about a year ago with the goal of raising $100,000 for FSHD research.
“It’s been an amazing experience; it’s a huge adventure,” said Carbone, whose team of riders and support staff is comprised of members from St. Stan’s and the St. Joseph’s College community.
The journey was broken up into six stages, with each day featuring a specific number of miles on the road. Some days were made up of 12 hours on the bike, not to mention often dealing with heat, rain and strong headwinds.
When asked about his motivation to hop on the bike every day despite fatigue, muscle aches and treacherous conditions, Carbone said it’s the people and families the team has been meeting who provide the inspiration.
“If you think you’re struggling trying to ride 120 miles in a day, or trying to climb 10,000 feet or trying to deal with 30 mile-per-hour headwinds, I think it’s a small sacrifice when you compare it to the struggles these people have to endure every day of their lives,” he said. “And they’re the friendliest most generous people you’ve ever met.”
Carbone said doctors have isolated the gene that causes FSHD and are now in need of additional funds to continue their research in working toward a cure. To donate to the cause, visit www.chriscarrinofoundation.org.
For the last leg of the trip on July 19 from the George Washington Bridge to the Brooklyn Bridge and then from the Brooklyn Bridge to Barclays Center, local bike enthusiasts are encouraged to join the ride. If interested, contact Carbone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the riders reach their final destination, they will revel in the fact that they just biked fully across the U.S.
And adding to that adventure of a lifetime is the feeling that they impacted the fight against a debilitating muscle disorder.
If 12 cyclists can successfully ride a bike from Seattle to Brooklyn, we can surely find a successful treatment – and someday even a cure – for FSHD.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.