Karen Woodward's Fundraising Page
Riding for those who no longer can
Once again this June I will be riding 270+miles, with Team Greenwich Police, in the Tri-Stek to help defeat ALS. This will be my third year riding this incredible event that Amanda Bernier introduced me to. Amanda, who started as a patient of mine, quickly became a friend. She was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 29 within weeks of finding out she was pregnant with her first child. This devastating disease progressed very quickly during her pregnancy and by the time she delivered Arabella (full term), she was on a trach, paralyzed from the neck down and within months after delivery had only eye movement. I watched Amanda and Chris raise their daughter with such grace and gratitude for almost 2 years. The last two years I have done this ride in honor of Amanda. The first year she was able to come thank the riders on day two, something that was very important to her. Last year she was too weak to get out and my dear friend Colleen and I facetimed Amanda at the finish. This year I will do this ride in her honor and her memory. In September she earned her angel wings and is now free of this horrible disease. Amanda was never bitter about her disease, always positive, and always looking to make a difference. Amanda truly felt she was here for a purpose and was determined to fill it. I would say she did. I could list a million amazing things Amanda did.... breastfeeding her baby, publicly sharing her ALS journey to help promote awareness, ran a business from her bed, made an incredible scrapbook for her daughter (with her eyes!), planned birthday parties.... the list can go on and on. She opened her home to my children, she showed them how she used her eye tracking device, she taught them not to be scared of a person who is hooked up to a machine and is unable to move, she answered all their questions. Most importantly she taught all of us "there is good in everything".
The Trek is not just another day for a ride for me. It's an emotional weekend with reflections on why we are out there, why EVERYONE is out there. Every person who is part of the Trek weather they are riding or volunteering has some connection to someone with ALS. Amanda had a hereditary form of ALS carrying a gene mutation. I promised Amanda I will be part of this ride every year until there is an effective treatment or a cure so she can rest knowing Arabella will not have to worry about a life with ALS. ALS is not incurable it is underfunded. There are treatments in the works, one just approved by the FDA to be released in August and another drug developed in the lab right at the ALS Therapy Development Institute, sitting in a freezer waiting to go to clinical trial, but funds are needed to get it to trial.
I am not a very big fundraiser but this cause holds a special place in my heart. As a healthcare worker it is my job to help, I want to help, in situations like this you feel helpless. This is how I have found peace to help. The funds raised will go directly to ALS TDI who does research solely on ALS . Arabella will be three in the fall and I pray that by the time she is old enough to understand this disease there is a cure. I thank all of you who have supported me in the past and I thank you all for supporting me in the future. Every little bit counts! I'm sure all of us get caught up in the chaos of life and we all go through some tough times.... but take a few minutes from your busy lives, think about how lucky you are to be able to hug your children, friends and family...and go give them hugs!