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Yorktown Friends Cycle for a Cure

YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- Shari Besterman said she was forced to watch helplessly as her best friend dealt with her mother’s suffering from an incurable disease – so Besterman decided to something about it.

“I knew that I wanted to feel like I was doing something positive out of something that was horrible,” Besterman said. “I watched my girlfriend hear her mother’s diagnosis and know that without a doubt she was going to lose her mom -- it’s a death sentence, there’s no cure, and then I watched her go through the stages of ultimately losing her mom. It was my one way that I felt like I could do something that meant something, instead of just saying I’m sorry you lost your mom.”

Besterman’s friend, Loree Dippary, lost her mother to Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in March of 2010 after she was diagnosed in 2005.

Besterman joined with her friend, Sabrina, and participated in a 270 mile bike ride to benefit the Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI). ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and there is no known cure. ALS TDI works to find a cure for ALS, whereas other foundations work to help those families who are already suffering from the disease. The bike ride is a three-day trek -- something Besterman, who admits she was not a cyclist, was not necessarily prepared for.

“I think the thought process was originally just do something to honor her and to turn something that was a negative thing into something that was positive,” Besterman said. “It was just a great experience from beginning to end. I mean it was hard, because I was not a cyclist, I didn’t own a bike, I knew nothing about true riding.”

Besterman, now joined again with her friend Sabrina, who joined with her last year, and three others will complete the trek again in late July. This year, Besterman, Sabrina Bluestone, friend Jane DeCoursey, as well as Sabrina’s son, Max Bluestone and friend, Timothy George will also participate in the ride.

Besterman said Sabrina had asked her to participate in the ride again because Max and Tim had expressed interest in participating.

"She came to me and said okay I did it for you last year, so now you need to do it for me," Besterman said.

The group now made up of five individuals, has raised close to $4,500 and needs to reach their goal of $9,000.

DeCoursey, who also admitted to not being a cyclist, said the preparation is repetitive. “Ride, ride, ride, ride, ride,” she said about how she trains.  DeCoursey said her motive to join the ride came both from Besterman asking her, as well as being there at the check points to watch as Besterman and others rode.

“People had signs that said they were ‘riding for my sister’ or ‘riding for my aunt,’ ‘riding for my uncle’ and there was such an energy in the crowd, it was so emotional,” DeCoursey said. “I don’t have an emotional tie to ALS, but you can’t help but get emotional watching it.”

Besterman said those emotions are what kept her going as well.

“I think [Jane DeCoursey] felt some of what we felt: It was totally overwhelming. We were of course overwhelmed, physically of course we were drained, but on top of that just the overall the emotion and what everybody experienced was just incredible,” she said.

When Besterman shared the story of her ride, she couldn’t help but get emotional again, recounting why the ride was so moving.

“At the rest stops throughout the whole three-day ride, there’s men and women there that have ALS that are waiting for somebody on their team to ride,” Besterman said. “And you see them in the wheelchair, and I would say to myself, ‘I bet they would give anything to be on this bike, and I can do this and they can’t, so I’m going to do it for them.”

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