Have Bike, Will Ride for LAM
By: Katherine Lu Hsu
I participated in University of Pennsylvania’s Million Dollar Bike Race (MDBR) in 2014 and 2015 in support of my mother, Florence Lu, who was diagnosed with LAM in 2004. At eight months pregnant in 2016, I could only cheer on the riders as they returned, but look for me again in 2017! I love joining the MDBR because of the challenge and community.
The challenge: Before the MDBR, I was not a confident cyclist. I didn’t own my own bicycle, had never ridden in urban streets before, and was a little vague on how to change gears. For me, riding 11 miles in a group the first year was a new and exciting experience. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to ride 33 miles the next year. My cousin Ray Chen, a co-captain of the LAM team, helped me devise a training plan, and I felt such a sense of accomplishment at the end (though I wish I had trained on more hills). It was also a challenge to raise money through the ride: I initially felt a little uncomfortable asking my friends and colleagues for donations to support LAM, but I discovered that people were glad to learn more about The LAM Foundation and support my ride. By setting myself a challenge that requires discipline, training, and speaking up about LAM, I have found a personal way to show my investment in finding a cure for LAM and my support for my mom in her LAM journey.
The community: the MDBR has become a wonderful center of community for me. A large group of extended family members and family friends get together annually to ride and raise money in support of my mom. While I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with them after several years of living in the Midwest, I also value the new friendships fostered by the ride. I’ve met other LAM patients and leaders from The LAM Foundation; I’ve also learned a great deal about other rare diseases from talking with patients and families over post-ride snacks. The increased visibility for rare diseases like LAM encouraged by the MDBR offers a welcome affirmation of the importance of rare disease research and helps to bring those of us affected by rare diseases closer together.
If you would like to be challenged while taking part in a bike ride with this great community, visit http://www.milliondollarbikeride.org/ and register today!