S.C. Ride to End ALZ kicks off after hitting historic, million-dollar milestone

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Published: Jul. 14, 2023 at 6:56 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The July heat isn’t stopping hundreds of cyclists from pedaling from one side of South Carolina to the other over the next three days.

Their goal is to support those fighting Alzheimer’s and those researching a cure through the South Carolina Ride to End ALZ.

Riders started Friday morning in the Upstate in Simpsonville before making their way into the Midlands and closing out the first 66-mile leg of their ride in Newberry.

This year, more than 400 cyclists are signed up and sweating it out, including Greenville’s Andrew King.

“I took my bike to a part-time job, goofing off, and the boss that we were working for, his wife was in senior health and said, ‘I didn’t know you guys ride bikes,’ and then she told us about this event,” King said.

That was more than a decade ago, and King has cycled every year since then in the longest-standing state Alzheimer’s ride in the country, now in its 15th year.

“We enjoy the friendship, the camaraderie. We love riding our bikes. But we know that Alzheimer’s hits far too many people, and the money going to help the families, help providing resources is what brings us out here,” King, riding for his 13th time this year, said.

The ride hit a huge milestone before they even took off Friday morning, becoming the first state Ride to End ALZ to raise $1 million in one year.

That money goes toward care and support services provided through the Alzheimer’s Association in South Carolina and to advance research efforts.

“We are funding projects across the country and across the globe to find better means of diagnosis and treatment and hopefully prevention and, one day, a cure,” Beth Sulkowski, vice president of communications for the South Carolina chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, said.

They are as close as they have ever been.

This year’s ride comes just days after the FDA gave full traditional approval for the first time to a drug that can slow the progression of this disease.

“It’s the best news that we’ve had in ages,” Sulkowski said. “That means people who have been diagnosed in the early stages or in mild cognitive impairment have more of the good days.”

Nearly 100,000 South Carolinians are living with Alzheimer’s right now, and another 216,000 are serving as caretakers, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

As the three-day, 255-mile trek shows, so many South Carolinians are committed to riding for more good days in the years ahead.

“We have to,” King said. “Can’t stop.”

On Saturday, riders will leave from in Newberry and make their way down to Orangeburg, and then they will close out their ride on Sunday in Mount Pleasant.

People can still donate to the ride through the Alzheimer’s Association website.

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