November 24, 2014

Medina
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Biking across America for awareness of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

MEDINA – A group of seven bicyclists, who are in the middle of a ride across the country, made a pit stop Friday in Public­ Square.

The members of the group are from all over the country but are riding together for the same cause.

“It’s to spread awareness and raise money for Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” Julianne Panagacos said.

The team was part of the Jett Foundation, based in Massachusetts, which raises money for research on the muscle disorder most commonly found in young boys between the ages of 2 and 5.

According to the Jett Foundation about 1 in every 3,500 boys are born with the disease.

“People with the diagnosis usually don’t live past 25,” said 16-year-old Kaitlyn Hastings from Plainville, Massachusetts. “It’s the deterioration of your muscles until it affects your heart and lungs.”

She said her 13-year-old brother, Ryan, has been diagnosed with the disease.

“I did the ride last year and it was a good experience and a lot of fun, so I signed up to do it again,” Hastings said.

The group started June 15 in Astoria, Oregon, and are expected to end Aug. 15 in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. They took a brief rest stop in Medina.

“It’s been a long ride,” said 15-year-old Julianna Gabel of Curtice near Toledo.

She said she joined the team after finding out her neighbor has Duchenne.

“It’s a lot of riding, but sometime we stay with families who are affected by the disease,” she said. “When you get to know them and hear their stories, it just makes it all worth it.”

Contact Katie Anderson at (330) 721-4012 or kanderson@medina-gazette.com.