Friends bike America for cure

Courtesy Photo / Cathy Krauss
Steve Krauss (L) and Tim Layer (R) will be taking a team bike ride across the United States to raise awareness for Huntingtons Disease

Courtesy Photo / Cathy Krauss Steve Krauss (L) and Tim Layer (R) will be taking a team bike ride across the United States to raise awareness for Huntingtons Disease

Marc Maycroft

The words “road trip” take on an entirely different meaning to Grand Valley State University freshmen Tim Layer and Steve Krauss. Their cross-country trip will not be by car, train or bus: it will be on bicycles.

Layer and Krauss have been friends since kindergarten. They and five of their friends from colleges and universities throughout the Midwest will journey across the country to raise awareness for Huntington’s disease, a rare degenerative disease.

Huntington’s disease, a hereditary neurological disorder known to damage nerves inside the brain, is most commonly diagnosed in people who are middle-aged, but symptoms can surface at any age. The disease is characterized by symptoms like uncontrollable movements, mental deterioration and emotional disturbances, all of which worsen with time, according to an article published by the Mayo Clinic.

Huntington’s disease hit Layer and Krauss close to home. In 2005, a member of their group, Camp Earth, lost his father to the disease. In 2009, the member’s older brother was diagnosed. He and his younger brother have a 50 percent risk of contracting the disease themselves.

“We just want to do all we can to help our friend and his family,” said Patrick Dimpsey, a student at Winona State University and the brains behind the bike trip.

Dimpsey took the Camp Earth motto, “Do Something,” to heart. The journey across the country will start in Sandy Hook, N.J., and travel 3,600 miles to San Francisco. Dimpsey will ride the entire distance. The other members of the group, including Krauss and Layer, will each take a leg of the journey to bike alongside their friend.

Dimpsey said the idea came to him without much flair.

“I wish I had a good story,” he said. “Really I woke up one Saturday morning in September and came up with the idea. I then called A.J. Fisher, one of the riders, asked him if he wanted to join me. Without hesitation, he said yes. From there, we added more people, and it has grown into what it is today.”

Layer will ride the stretch from South Bend, Ind., to the suburban area that surrounds Chicago.

“I am excited to get more people knowing about this disease and gaining more support,” Layer said. “Also the challenge of biking long distances.”

Krauss, the last rider to mount the bike, will take over in Salt Lake City, Utah and ride to the final destination of San Francisco.

“A cross-country bicycle trip is ideal for spreading the word because it is without a doubt an impressive feat,” Krauss said. “And many people from across the entire nation will hopefully be more educated on and donate towards Huntington’s.”

The group spends its free time preparing for the journey, building muscle and endurance for the long, strenuous ride.

Camp Earth continues to reach out to businesses for sponsorship and donations to their trip and to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, but a majority of the funding has come from individuals.

“We will be using mostly gear we already own,” Dimpsey said. “It may not be the best, but it will work just fine. Plus it saves a lot of money.”

The group also reached out to newspapers in the cities along the bike tour in hopes of media coverage to help spread the word about their cause.

“I wish more people knew about how bad Huntington’s was,” Layer said. “Also, if we cured this disease, it could help cure other diseases.”

The trip has brought the group international attention. Camp Earth received emails from people in England thanking the group for their effort and determination, cycling advice from Morocco and an offer to have dinner while they bike through the state of Colorado.

The ride will take almost two months to complete, and the riders hope to cover 70 to 80 miles each day. Their departure is scheduled for May 11, a date Dimpsey eagerly awaits.

“Even if both my legs break, we have already succeeded,” Dimpsey said. “We have informed hundreds of people about this terrible disease, and we won’t stop until there is a cure.”

More information, including donation information, can be found on the Camp Earth Facebook page or on the website,

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