Desert to Dome

Riding for the Lives of Children

Greg Crawford, Dean of the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame is riding his bike from Arizona to Indiana, bringing with him the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation.

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Ride Updates

We have arrived!

Turning onto Notre Dame Avenue to ride to the Dome

Riding down Notre Dame Avenue with the Dome already in sight!

We are so glad to be back! It’s hard to describe the feeling we had as we were riding down Notre Dame Avenue and were greeted and welcomed so warmly by everyone at the Main Circle and at the Dome. We’ve never felt as much support from the Notre Dame family as we did yesterday. Surrounded by Notre Dame students, staff, faculty, cheerleaders, athletes, and the Band, being in the company of President Jenkins and Coach Kelly, and having Coach Parseghian and Cindy Parseghian at our side, we were at once overwhelmed by the reception we received and empowered by the very strong spirit that brings with it hope for overcoming Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) disease. When we began this bike ride a month ago, it was with the intention of bringing more hope to the children and families who are fighting this devastating disease.

We wish to thank everyone who came to welcome us at the arrival event – it was such a pleasure and so heartwarming to see all of you there! We really appreciate your support. We thank everyone who followed the blog and left us comments to cheer us on. We wish to thank everyone on the D2D committee for all of their hard work for the ride, the club stops, and the arrival event. We are very grateful to the Notre Dame alumni club members and all the kind and generous people we met along the route who reached out to us, welcomed us into their homes, lifted our spirits, and reenergized us. We are very grateful to Cindy and Mike Parseghian for giving us such a memorable send-off in Tucson, and to Cindy and Coach Parseghian for being here to greet us at our arrival event. We are also very grateful to our family for all of their loving support. Alumni and friends, Renate and I sincerely appreciate all of your support and encouragement throughout the ride as we together seek to find a cure for NPC. With all of your help and good wishes, this has been a truly remarkable adventure, and we are so lucky to have been a part of it.

Day 31 (Monday, August 23): New Buffalo, Michigan to the DOME – We are coming home.

See you at NOON in front of the Dome. We are so excited to be coming home!

Day 30 (Sunday, August 22): Chicago, IL to New Buffalo, Michigan: One more day! We are so excited to see you at the Dome on Monday at noon.

We hope you can make it to learn about the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation and its partnership with Notre Dame.

We're almost home!

We started off the day with a nice breakfast with our family, and they all convened around the van to wish us well on the last two days of our biking journey. We had perfect weather—sunny and cool, but with strong crosswinds. For the first 9 miles of our ride today, we were on the Chicago bike trail. It presented a great view of the lake and of the city—if you ever have a chance, bring your bikes to Chicago and ride the lake-front trail (you’ll see what we’re talking about). Read more »

Day 29 (Saturday, August 21): Chicago.

Enjoying the sites of downtown Chicago

We spent the day in Chicago with our family: our girls, Michaela and Ally, Renate’s mother, Anneke, Renate’s sister and brother-in-law, Debby and Matt, and their two young children, Jake and Julia. The day was filled with shopping and Millenium Park visits. I finalized the plans for our ride into campus today and spoke to the incoming freshman class at Notre Dame from the Santa Fe building in downtown Chicago. This building has a Notre Dame Bookstore inside and other Notre Dame offices, and it is largely used for the executive MBA program. It is a beautiful edifice. Read more »

Day 28 (Friday, August 20th): Chicago Illinois – Night out in ND Chicago Club.

Renate riding into Chicago on a bike path

Greg and Renate in Chicago

Today we slept in for the first time in a long time – nine whole hours! Then, we rode around Chicago along the bike path next to the lake. It was a beautiful day for biking. Read more »

Day 27 (Thursday, August 19): Pontiac to Chicago Illinois: Tailwinds into the Windy City.

Friends, family, students and colleagues, we are looking forward to seeing you all Monday at noon as we arrive at the Dome. We are so excited to be coming home. Hard to believe it is almost over. See you soon.

Hurray! We're almost there!

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Day 26 (Wednesday, August 18): Lincoln to Pontiac, Illinois: A Night Out with Toni and Friends in Pontiac.

Chilly morning - coats a must!

Today was a pretty straightforward biking day, a strong headwind most of the way, but overall an uneventful biking day (also only about 90°F, so very good biking weather). We followed the historic Route 66 most of the way. Read more »

Day 25 (Tuesday, August 17) Carlinville to Lincoln, Illinois: The Land of Lincoln welcomes us.

Cool morning start

Final quarter of the trip!

Today’s 82-mile ride went very well. The temperature only reached about 80°F, and there was cloud cover all day long. It was probably one of our fastest days in terms of average speed. We had two rough aspects to our day: first, we had a very bumpy 10-mile stretch on Route 66 (not cyclist-friendly), and our hotel did not have any hot water. After being on a bike all day a shower is a must, so cold water it is! It is now 11 o’clock at night, and there will be no hot water until tomorrow after we leave. Read more »

Day 24 (Monday, August 16): Maryland Heights, Missouri to Carlinville, Illinois—We are in the 4th Quarter!

Yay, we're in Illinois!

We made it to Illinois today; we are getting closer and closer to the Dome! As Coach Parseghian would put it, we are in the 4th quarter. We were so excited to see signs for Chicago today. It was a beautiful sunny day, and temperatures were reasonable (finally). A bit of a headwind accompanied us for most of the day, but otherwise it was perfect for riding. We crossed the Mississippi River today as we crossed the Missouri-Illinois boarder. We were very excited to see the “Welcome to Illinois” sign, because now we know we are close! Apart from a great riding day, the only thing to report is that there was a lot of corn in Illinois (miles and miles of it). Tomorrow we head to Springfield where we have a Notre Dame club gathering.

Corn galore everywhere you look

Renate by one of the many, many farms we passed in Illinois

I wish to follow up on my yesterday’s comments about drug discovery research. The exiting drug discovery and therapeutics development in the College of Science draw significant support from several state-of-the-art core facilities on campus, including the Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Facility, ND Integrated Imaging Facility, and the Genomics and Bioinformatics facilities. The Chemical Genomics and Drug Discovery team is currently planning a Chemical Synthesis Facility that will provide much-needed chemical support services to the University’s biomedical researchers and their external academic and industry collaborators.

The overarching vision is that the Chemical Synthesis Facility staff will provide the synthesis of small molecules for use in hit verification, lead development, and scale-up. In addition, the facility will provide expertise in the preparation of biological probes, active pharmaceutical agents as experimental controls, and small chemical libraries for structure-activity relationships and optimization of pharmacological properties. This shared user research core will also house a suite of instruments and equipment necessary to organize the products of past, current, and future chemical synthesis to create the Notre Dame Chemical Compound Collection and promote cross-disciplinary collaboration. Beyond small molecule medicinal chemistry, the new facility will be a valuable resource for collaborative research across many fields, including nanotechnology and sustainable energy research, such as materials chemistry and catalysis development.

Go Irish.

Day 23 (Sunday, August 15): Hermann to Maryland Heights, MO: More Rollers and Evening with the St. Louis ND Club.

Crossing the Missouri River again

We left Hermann, Missouri bright and early, and rode right through the heart of grape country, so the rolling hills continued for most of the day. It was déjà vu from yesterday, with steep hills slowing us down to 5 mph and downhill slopes flying us at 40 mph or more (or, in Renate’s case, a steady 25 mph). It started to flatten out a bit when we closed in on St. Louis. The temperatures were again below 100°F and the cloud cover protected us for most of the day from the sun. Overall it was a great biking day! Tomorrow we will start our final week of biking and we are so excited to get back home to the Dome. The aches and pains are adding up, but we are still in pretty good shape. Once we start that final week tomorrow, we will be fired up again! Read more »

Day 22 (Saturday, August 14): Boonville to Hermann—In the Heart of Grape Country.

Teamwork

Today was an interesting day. It was the first day since day 3 or 4 when temperatures did not reach triple digits, and the cloud cover for most of the day protected us from the sun (probably the nicest weather for biking we have had thus far). We crossed the Missouri River today (twice).
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Day 21 (Friday, August 13): Warrensburg to Boonville, MO: Dinner overlooking the Missouri River.

Central Missouri ND Club made us an awesome cake!

When we came out to the van this morning, there was a business card on it—with a big “Go Irish!” on the back. One of the hotel guests, from Indiana, left his business card and best wishes to us in Warrensburg.

While Renate gets a McMuffin, Greg gets email

Today our ride was very nice. It is still quite hot here in Missouri, but the rolling landscape was beautiful. We are seeing fewer armadillos on the side of the road now (these must be very slow creatures as they tend not to make it across the road), and a lot more corn! Read more »

Day 20 (Thursday, August 12): Nevada to Warrensburg, MO: Beautiful Day, 100 miles of rolling hills.

After 30 miles the sun will rise


Early morning at Truman Lake outside Kansas City

Today was a beautiful biking day. Since we had upwards of 100 miles to ride, we started at 3:30 a.m., not so bright but early in the morning. Record temperatures were again forecasted today so such an early start was necessary (our bodies were not excited about waking up at 2:45 a.m., but we take the excessive heat warnings seriously). The morning sunrise was absolutely breathtaking as we rode east. We also crossed over Truman Lake, which was stunning, full of wildlife, and we saw young deer running alongside the lake. The rolling hills in Missouri are beautiful, but after the ride today, we had to purchase more Bengay for our sore and tired quads and hamstrings. We worked really hard today on those rollers, and even though they presented us with a challenging day, we had a great sense of accomplishment by the end of it. Read more »

Day 19 (Wednesday, August 11): Joplin to Nevada, MO: Test of Determination.

Avoiding highways at ALL cost

By Renate Crawford

Figuring we’d have an easy day today, only 70 miles, we decided to actually enjoy the breakfast at the hotel prior to our departure. Hotel breakfast bars open at 6 a.m., but we tend to be at mile 20-40 by then. Only minutes into the trip, we knew this was not going to be an “easy” day after all. All of our sophisticated navigation devices wanted us to go on the highway, but we tried desperately to stay off the main roads. We carried our bikes through the very painful brush. It became more of an adventure race than a bike trip. On the first day, I would squirm at seeing a grasshopper. Now we just march through their home-turf. Well, that got us two miles and back on the main road. Not even a mile after Patrick commented “at least we have a smooth wide shoulder to ride on,” the smooth part went away. We were left with broken pavement, pebbles and whatever people decided they no longer wanted in their cars (food packaging, bottles, diapers, etc). We are now at 39 flats and 9 slashed tires, in case you are keeping track (again thanks, ND Club of Tulsa, for the inner-tubes). Okay, so this is just another obstacle and as we mentioned earlier in ourblog: “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” We focused our eyes on Nevada (MO), and we continued. Read more »

Guest Post by Cindy Parseghian

Looking back to the fall of 1994 when Michael, Marcia and Christa were diagnosed with Niemann Pick Type C (NP-C) disease, we never expected the incredible outpouring of support from so many individuals. Our family has experienced the ultimate in human kindness, and it has been the Notre Dame community that has been with us each step of the journey.

Throughout the years, the Notre Dame community has shed tears of understanding when our three children succumbed to NP-C. Members of this community have held us up while our hearts have broken and have said many prayers of support. In addition, Notre Dame clubs around the country have held fundraising events and ND alumni have overwhelmed us with their generous financial donations.

Greg and Renate are tremendous examples of the Notre Dame spirit. They have taken on the challenge of the Desert to Dome bike ride in an effort to aide the NP-C research efforts by raising awareness and donations. Every turn of their bicycle pedals will help bring us closer to developing a therapy for all of the children who struggle with the ravages of NP-C disease.

The research partnership established five years ago between the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation and Notre Dame is shedding new light on the disease. The NP-C Drug Discovery Core at ND has become a resource for researchers worldwide who are working on developing therapies for the disease. By strengthening this partnership, we are confident that Notre Dame will be a leader in this battle against NP-C.

Notre Dame is unique among research institutions in its willingness to tackle rare diseases. ND has never shied away from helping the most underserved in the world. Notre Dame brings expertise and dedication to the NP-C field, which gives children with the disease, and their families, hope for a brighter future.

Day 18 (Tuesday, August 10): Claremore, Oklahoma to Joplin, Missouri: Crossing into the “Show Me State.”

Riding to Missouri

Upon leaving Claremore, Oklahoma this morning, we stopped at a convenience store in White Oak. When Renate asked the attendant at the counter if she could please use the restroom, the attendant responded “You are in the paper today” and showed her the article in the Tulsa World. It was a very nice article on our ride. The interview was set up by the Tulsa Club yesterday when we visited the Holy Family School. The convenience store attendant was very excited about seeing us in person after reading about us in the paper. She came out from behind her counter, gave us a bag of goodies for the road, wished us well on our journey, and signed the van. We gave her one of our Desert to Dome t-shirts. Now THAT is Oklahoma hospitality for you. Read more »

Day 17 (Monday, August 9): Stroud to Claremore, OK: The Royal Treatment by the ND Tulsa Club.

We do not know what to say to the Tulsa ND club—“thank you” would not be enough. You are awesome, Tulsa—we are deeply honored and highly appreciative of all that you have done for Desert to Dome. You rolled out the red carpet for us and showed us your passion and commitment to the Notre Dame mission and to the Notre Dame family. Thank you, Tulsa. We are so fired up after our visit with you. You really made us feel special and showed us the spirit of Notre Dame. Read more »

Out late!

We had an amazing night with the Tulsa Club and have lots of pictures and stories to share, but we’ll have to put them up tomorrow, as we now have to assume the horizontal position and get rest for the next 100 miles tomorrow!

Day 16 (Sunday, August 8): Moore to Stroud, OK: Our first experience with Route 66.

By Renate Crawford

Renate climbing near Stroud, OK

Greg & Renate at Route 66 Restaurant

Leaving Moore, Oklahoma today we had some issues—some road construction and closed bridges put a damper on the morning. However, after finding our way out of the city, we moved on to the famous Route 66. It was really cool, from the round barn to the other historic stops. The rolling hills are the most impressive sight on Route 66—and we mean they roll. They did not seem to stop rolling. Although challenging most of the day, the scenery was pretty spectacular. After about 80 miles, we found our hotel—the Skyliner Motel (what a gem!). On Monday we have a big day with the Tulsa Notre Dame Club—we are looking forward to meeting you all! Read more »

Day 15 (Saturday, August 7): Duncan to Moore, OK: A beautiful day and fun night with the Oklahoma City Club.

Today was a beautiful riding day—we started out at 5 a.m., and the temperature got only to the low 90s by the time we ended at noon. The roads were also very smooth, with large shoulders to ride on. We noticed a significant change from riding mostly on back roads among large farms to now maneuvering in and out of urban areas. That is likely what the next two weeks will bring in some of the larger metropolitan areas we will be visiting. We had the opportunity to ride through Norman, OK on the way to Moore—what a beautiful city! I was impressed with the large research campus—the University of Oklahoma—that we passed, the technology park, and entrepreneurship center. The road we biked down for several miles was full of small and large companies. By the looks of it, technological and entrepreneurial activity is really hopping.  Read more »

Day 14 (Friday, August 6): Bowie, Texas to Duncan, Oklahoma: “We’re Halfway There” – Goodbye Longhorns, Hello Sooners.

Sunrise in Bowie, TX

Leaving Bowie today at sunrise put us in a good mood as the sunrise was a brilliant orange. It was a big day for us: we’re halfway there! As we crossed over the Oklahoma boarder, knowing that we passed beyond our halfway point, the Bon Jovi Song, “Livin’ on a Prayer” came to mind—and we played it loudly on the iPhone:

Oh, we’re half way there
Oh oh, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand, we’ll make it, I swear
Oh oh, livin’ on a prayer

We just love this song, and today, it was most appropriate! The winds tried pushing us back to Texas, but we fought through them and made it to Duncan, Oklahoma. Sooner or later we have to get a tailwind. The temperatures here are lower, but humidity seems much higher today. We have a long day on Saturday and will have to get a few hours in before sunrise. Read more »

In Memory of Marcia Parseghian

Newsletter

Today we remember the life of Marcia Parseghian, who lost her battle with Niemann-Pick Type C disease on August 6, 2005 at the age of 16. Learn more: http://www.parseghian.org/newsletters/september2005.html

Day 13 (Thursday, August 5): Mineral Wells to Bowie, Texas: Turn Left, Head North to the Dome.

On the way to Bowie, TX

After riding in one direction—east—since leaving Tucson, today we made our first turn left to head for the Dome. We will be heading north for the remainder of our trip.

Today was an interesting day. We saw many animals that are not often spotted in South Bend, such as ostrich, emu, donkey, and Brahma bull, along with the typical horses and cows. There were also some less interesting (to us) creatures, such as grasshoppers, which we saw everywhere we rode, cicadas, locusts, and toads. I started a stampede when I whistled at a bunch of cows! Read more »

Day 12 (Wednesday, August 4): Breckenridge to Mineral Wells, Texas: Big Texas Dinner.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

Our ride was a little shorter today, but it was still really hot. The temperature exceeded 100°F for the third day in a row and in fact, reached 107°F this afternoon. It looks like we have a few more days of above-normal temperatures. The ride was shorter today, and the landscape was beautiful—a lot of rolling hills and a lot of stares from cows along the way.

Dallas-Fort Worth Notre Dame Club

In the evening, we had a big Texas dinner with the Dallas-Fort Worth Notre Dame club. We met at the Love & War in Texas BBQ restaurant. After long days of riding, we certainly appreciated the great Texas steaks with all the sides! It was great to get an “injection” of Notre Dame spirit to keep us going in this heat. We even heard a trumpet rendition of the fight song. Thank you, Dallas-Fort Worth, for your great hospitality. Read more »

Day 11 (Tuesday, August 3): Snyder to Breckenridge, Texas: The Longest Distance!

In front of Hubbard Lake

Today was our longest ride so far and the longest planned—we rode 120 miles. After yesterday’s intense ride, we decided not to let “Mr. Sun” get to us today, so we started pedaling at 3:30 a.m. By the time the sun rose, we had already biked halfway. By the time we finished at noon, the temperature was again over 100°F. We felt very strong today, and perhaps this was our fastest ride. We still cannot seem to catch a break with the wind—we have had both headwinds and crosswinds, but few tailwinds. Fr. Hesburgh, could you check with your boss to see if he can give us a tailwind as we head north to the Dome? Read more »

Day 10 (Monday, August 2): Brownfield to Synder, TX: 100 times 2.

Do we look beaten up enough?

Wow, it is already the tenth day of our tour. Today we rode 100 miles and the temperature crept over 100 degrees before we were done for the day (hence 100 twice in the day). There was not a cloud in the sky so the sun ‘beat’ down on us all day long. There is no way to sugarcoat today’s ride—it was a grind. Everything was unfavorable—the temperature, the sun, the wind, the road surface, the climbs, and the flies. We started out today at 5 a.m. (which our bodies interpreted as 4 a.m. as we had just entered the central time zone the day before) and we were still caught in the heat. Read more »

Day 9 (Sunday, August 1): Hobbs, New Mexico to Brownfield, Texas: Peanuts.

Thank you everyone for your comments! We appreciate the kind words of encouragement. We will need them in the coming days—the forecast: Hot!

At the New Mexico-Texas border

We did it—we finished our “Tour de New Mexico,” from west to east. New Mexico is a beautiful state, from the desert to the high altitudes in the mountains, with a rich variety of scenery. Colder than normal temperatures and much higher than normal rainfall left both the desert and the mountains plush and blooming. The people were so welcoming and courteous on the roads and everywhere we stopped. We even picked up some donations along the way from people interested in our ride and its purpose. Thank you, New Mexico!

Early start

It was hot today! We started before the sun rose to avoid the early afternoon heat. The ride was pretty flat, and we had tailwinds most of the way. Thanks for sending those our way! As we left New Mexico, there were many oil pumps as far as the eye could see—we thought it would continue into Texas. Instead, however, we ran across many, many peanut farms. Brownfield, the town where we are staying tonight, is a big peanut community. We stopped along the way today (as Renate prefers indoor restrooms), and Greg was approached by a Texan. Greg was ready to explain all about our ride and the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, but this Texan was only interested in talking about football. Greg suggested that we may see Texas at a bowl game this year. His response was: “Dream on!” Hey, we dream big and have reason to do so! Read more »

Day 8 (Saturday, July 31): Artesia to Hobbs, NM: The Ride is Heating Up! One week down and three to go.

In the Land of Oil Pumps

It was another beautiful day in eastern New Mexico. We left Artesia bright and early. As we started riding east leaving Artesia, the landscape became sprinkled with oil pumps as far as the eye could see—we also passed several large oil refineries. We saw some disturbing danger signs, such as “Danger: H2S Poison Gas May Be Present.”

A Disconcerting Sign

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Day 7 (Friday, July 30): Mayhill to Artesia, NM: Simply Beautiful

We started off with the best breakfast at the Mayhill Café and Hotel—homemade everything, including my oatmeal. When I asked if it was all homemade, the waitress responded: “It was made in someone’s home.”

Beautiful Day


Today was perfect. The temperature started out in the mid 50s in Mayhill, and as we descended to Artesia, New Mexico over the next 72 miles, the temperature rose to the low 90s. It never felt too hot today, not a cloud in the sky, and it was one of those days you wish would never end. The scenery was amazing as it has been raining a lot in the desert, and it is green everywhere. We stopped at a local fruit stand in the mountains, and they told us it is usually brown and dry, but this year has been different with all the rain, simply beautiful and plush everywhere. The landscape coming through the mountains looked like a landscape architect designed it. Read more »

Day 6 (Thursday, July 29): Alamogordo to Mayhill, NM: A challenging day—Climbing, climbing and more climbing—Have to get up this Hill!

Looking over the Edge near Cloudcroft, NM


Although a short day in terms of miles, only about 50, it was a massive uphill climb to >8700 feet for the first half. The weather started out being very biking-friendly in Alamogordo (around 4600 feet), but as the climb progressed, things deteriorated. At around 6500 feet it began to rain, and it did not stop for the rest of the day. At the top, the temperature at noon was 55°F, so we were not just lightheaded from the altitude but also very cold! It turned into a cold and very wet day. Up and over the peak at Cloudcroft, New Mexico, we then descended to Mayhill—a very small town, with a hotel/café, a grocery store called “We Be, Groceries and Stuff,” and a gas station right off the main road. We went shopping in We Be, Groceries and Stuff and bought a lot of things we did not need. The few people in town were really friendly, especially the employee at We Be who was very curious about our bike ride. We are staying at the Mayhill Café & Hotel and are looking forward to a good old-fashioned breakfast in the morning.

Climbing in the Rain near Cloudcroft

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Off the Grid!

We’ve headed up and over into the mountains of Mayhill, but we have no Internet connection there and will have to try to post the daily summary on Friday afternoon upon arriving in Artesia.

Day 5 (Wednesday, July 28): Las Cruces to Alamagordo, NM: The Perfect Day

San Agustin Pass


Beautiful Scenery

Today was another perfect riding day. We started off with a climb out of Las Cruces and made our way to >5700 feet, through the San Agustin pass, and then it was pretty much downhill from there. We rode hard today to work off our big dinner last night with the Notre Dame El Paso Club. Temperatures rose to high 80s, and, for the most part, we had a tailwind! We passed through White Sands National Monument, where white gypsum sand dunes glisten in the sun. Close by was the White Sands Missile Range, where rockets and missiles are tested. We also passed the Holloman Air Force Base, where fighter jets flew overhead. It was just a perfect day for riding. Tomorrow will be our biggest climbing challenge of the ride, as we leave Alamagordo and travel to Mayhill. Read more »

A few photos from our trip so far

Monday, July 26

 

The Tucson folks sang the Notre Dame victory march with us before we left.

 

We started our ride from the Foundation office in Tucson.

Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases at Notre Dame

You may have heard that research on Niemann-Pick will be conducted in the Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases. Now, the question is, what is the Center? With Professor Kasturi Haldar as the founding director, we started this initiative in 2008 to fill a gap in treating diseases that large pharmaceutical companies tend to ignore because chances for profit are small. Rare diseases, including Niemann-Pick Type C, have a limited market (usually fewer than 200,000 people), and diseases that mostly affect the world’s poor, such as tuberculosis, malaria and lymphatic filariasis, are neglected even though they affect billions.

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Day 4 (Tuesday, July 27): Deming to Las Cruces, NM: Crossing the Rio Grande, Descending into Las Cruces

Today was the perfect day in the desert. After three days of rain and colder-than-normal temperatures, we had a nearly perfect cycling day with the high in the low 90s. The trip was straightforward, leave Deming and head east to Las Cruces. The day was pretty uneventful, except for the big German shepherd that decided to come after us. After a big adrenaline rush from the incident, the dog did not catch up to us. One of our team guides said: “You don’t have to be faster than the dog, only faster than your friend.” All joking aside, the dog never caught us and narrowly escaped being injured by an oncoming car. Las Cruces, also known as the City of Crosses, is the home to New Mexico State University. It is just a beautiful and quaint city. Coming from the west into Las Cruces, we crossed the Rio Grande and descended (a long way downhill) into the city, ending a spectacular day of riding in nearly perfect conditions. Read more »

Day 3 (Monday, July 26): Lordsburg to Deming, New Mexico: Dry Heat???

South Bend Weather

Dry heat in the Southwest? Certainly!! However, neither one of those two words describes our day today. We had a cold day with lots of rain and wind in the afternoon. I think we brought a little bit of South Bend weather along with us to Arizona and New Mexico. Ever since the first day, it has been cold and raining during our rides. In fact, I did not bring a warm enough waterproof coat with me (will have to buy one if this weather keeps up). Read more »

Day 2 (Sunday, July 25): Willcox, Arizona to Lordsburg, New Mexico: Where are the Tailwinds?

Entering New Mexico


Today, we crossed into New Mexico, and we have many days here before we arrive in Texas. Many of you who signed the van wrote: “Let the tailwinds be with you.” Well, we have not found them yet! It was a nice ride today, but with heavy, heavy head winds. Also, parts of the road were really rough, however we were very fortunate that the temperature was only in the 80s. We saw our first two tarantulas on the roads today—interesting creatures. Renate was not very fond of them, but they took to her rather well. Read more »

Day 1 (Saturday, July 24): Tucson to Willcox, Arizona: A Touching Send-off – 29 Days to Go

Tucson Send-off

Tucson Send-off

We arrived at the Parseghian Foundation at 5:15 a.m. to find about 15 people ready to see us off. A breakfast, balloons, and so many of their volunteers arrived to support our ride. The Foundation’s office walls are full of photographs and memories. Cindy’s office wall in particular is a reminder to us all of the importance of funding Niemann-Pick research in search of treatments, therapies, and cures. After singing the fight song and saying our goodbyes, we were off, and everyone let the balloons go in the air—a very touching experience.

We're off!

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Tucson Hospitality (Friday, July 23)

Friday was a great day. We met with Peter and Patrick from Destination Cycling to sort out the equipment, and my daughters spent the day at the pool. We stopped by the office of the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation and Cindy presented us with a large magnet to stick on our van—a photograph of her three beautiful children: Michael, Marcia and Christa. The photograph is on the driver’s side door of the van—the most visible location from the road. This photo in and of itself is our motivation to raise awareness and funding to support Niemann-Pick research through this ride.

Cindy Parseghian

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A ‘Warm’ Welcome from the Valley of the Sun Alumni Club (Thursday, July 22)

Phoenix Notre Dame Club

We drove from Denver, Colorado to Flagstaff, Arizona on Wednesday night. Prior to making the trip down to Phoenix on Thursday, we could not help but swing by the Grand Canyon—what a spectacular sight! This evening we had a wonderful night with the Phoenix Notre Dame Club. Cindy and Mike Parseghian drove up from Tucson to join the club event, which was held at the Sandbar Mexican Restaurant. We appreciate all Maggie and the club did to organize the event and are grateful for all who showed up to wish us well on our journey and support the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation’s efforts. Alumni brought in Notre Dame memorabilia, the Notre Dame Club of Phoenix banners were proudly displayed, and gold and blue balloons finished up the décor. Quite the ND feeling! About 25 members came to wish us well. Knowing that the other clubs are competing for the best rendition of the fight song, the Phoenix club sang the entire song—not just the “cheer, cheer” verse—and they finished with the alma mater. Cindy Parseghian addressed the club before the members swarmed out to the parking lot to see and sign the van. Read more »

Video Postcards

Here are some video highlights from our stops in Cedar Rapids/Iowa City and Omaha. We had a great time meeting everyone!

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South to Arizona – Phoenix, Tucson, then Day 1 (Wednesday, July 21)

We are traveling south today, heading to our final two club events in Phoenix and Tucson. We will drive 12 hours to Flagstaff, stop for a morning to see the Grand Canyon, and then onward to Phoenix for a Thursday night event. Prior to departure in Denver, we were able to get in a two-hour workout at high altitude. The scenery down to Flagstaff was stunning. Read more »

Spirits Soar High in Mile-High City! (Tuesday, July 20)

Denver Notre Dame Club

Nearly 75 club members in Denver showed up for a picnic to welcome us to their wonderful city. Marcia and Bob did a terrific job organizing a high-energy event. The Denver club is a hearty bunch of Notre Dame alumni. They showed up in large numbers, braving the thunder and lightning, and they sang the fight song with much gusto (I would say they are tied with the Iowa City club for the gold medal right now).

We got to meet one of Coach Parseghian’s former football players. How cool is that?!

A Note from a Former Football Player under Coach Parseghian

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Onward to Denver (Monday, July 19)

We are off to Denver today!
Someone asked us last night if there was one word to describe our road trip thus far. There are actually three words: CORN, CORN and CORN! It is an eight-hour drive to Denver from Omaha and as we approach Denver the scenery is changing. The altitude makes it much tougher than training in Indiana making it a great training site as we prepare for the bike ride. Renate and I worked out very hard tonight—the energy and enthusiasm from the alumni club members egging us on. Just five days until we get on our bikes!

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Omaha Club (Sunday, July 18)

Omaha Notre Dame Club

On Sunday, we stopped in Nebraska and had a nice opportunity to meet with the Omaha club—a great group of Notre Dame alumni—to share Notre Dame stories and enjoy Jimmy Johns subs (who doesn’t?). In fact, we may have met two future domers, Sadie (class of 2030) and Teagan (class of 2032). Sadie is already a big Irish fan, who was not afraid of the camera—please see the video of Sadie showing her Notre Dame spirit!

Omaha is the hometown of Fr. Jenkins—the club is very proud of this connection and sends their warmest regards to the Dome.

The club members, including Sadie, signed the van and sent us off with a big “Go Irish!”

Thank you, Omaha, for your hospitality. Go Irish.

Sadie and her dad signed the Desert to Dome van before we left.

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Iowa City-Cedar Rapids—Wow, what a club! (Saturday, July 17)

The Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Notre Dame club was our first stop on Saturday night, July 17.

The Iowa City-Cedar Rapids club event was just awesome. John, the ND club president, did a wonderful job organizing the event and gave us a little tour around Iowa City before dinner. What a beautiful city!

Sean and Mary Anne hosted the club event at their home, the path to which proved tricky. All the media of navigation—GPS, maps, printed directions—that we had at our disposal turned out to be no match for Iowa City’s four-of-every-street city plan. However, the enormous Notre Dame banner outside Sean and Mary Anne’s house came to the rescue. I have to say, I have seen some enthusiastic Notre Dame fans in the past, but Sean probably takes the cake—a basement filled with Notre Dame football memorabilia, anything and everything from golden football helmets to photographs of Fighting Irish football stars. Looking over the photos and magazine covers on the wall, the issue of Sports Illustrated with Coach Ara Parseghian on the cover stands out as a very fitting reminder to us of the true purpose behind our bike ride. Read more »

Knollwood Country Club Sports ND Science Shirts at Send-off! (Saturday, July 17)

Our workout class surprised us by wearing Notre Dame Science shirts.

After many months of preparing for our ride, a lot of cross training and biking, we attended our last class on Saturday morning before hitting the road. Renate referred to it as our “last chance work-out.” We attended one of our favorite workout classes—a very challenging spinning and sculpting class that we have been attending on Saturday mornings at 7 a.m. and Wednesdays at 5 a.m. over the past few months at the Knollwood fitness club in Granger, Indiana. However, on this Saturday morning, we were in for a surprise! We walked in and saw that everyone was wearing a yellow Notre Dame Science “Take Notice” t-shirt—even the lawyer! It was touching and overwhelming to see so many people wearing ND science shirts in a health club. We are very grateful to the 5 a.m. workout crew for their support. Read more »

On the road

Renate and I are driving to Denver now for the club event on Tuesday night. We had a fabulous event in Omaha last night; we’ll give you an update tonight. If you live close to Denver, come and join us!

Niemann-Pick Type C is a fatal disease without a cure. Learn how Notre Dame Science researchers are trying to save lives.

First Club Stop– Cedar Rapids Raises $1500

Our first club stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Saturday night was a huge success. The club raised $1500 for NPC research! The Cedar Rapids club is challenging other Notre Dame clubs to raise more than they did. The challenge is on to see which club can raise the most!

It was great to meet the incoming students, the alumni and their families from the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area. They all signed our van and let us know that they’d be following us throughout our journey. We’re looking forward to meeting all of you at our upcoming club events.

Desert to Dome shirts

The Desert to Dome t-shirts just came in. They'll be for sale for $10 in LaFortune. All of the proceeds will go to NPC research.

Donors who give at the Blue Sponsorship level ($100-$1,499) and above also receive a shirt. Visit niemannpick.nd.edu to donate.

Desert to Dome van

Our Desert to Dome van has been wrapped and is ready to go! We'll be packing the van today, and leaving tomorrow morning right after our workout.

With the right research, we can beat Niemann-Pick Type C and save lives. Find out how you can help.

Media Interviews

Renate and I worked out at the gym, as usual, from 4-8 a.m. this morning. The local TV station WNDU stopped by to interview us at 7a.m. You can watch the interview at 5:05 p.m tonight. We’ll be on with JT in the Morning on WSBT radio on Friday morning.

Donate to the cause.

Strength Training

My wife and I had a 4:00 a.m. wake up call this morning for four hours of early morning weight lifting before work. We ended the day with a late evening 50-mile ride through Granger and southern Michigan. Anticipation is building.

Training Days

On Monday, Renate and I biked 50 miles, and today we’ve been strength training, lifting weights for about four hours this morning and running up the stadium stairs for an hour today.  We’re getting excited.

Training Days

On Sunday, Renate and I biked 60 miles around Diamond and Eagle Lakes.

Training

As we anticipate the start of the 2200 mile bike ride in a few weeks, my wife and I have been training daily in preparation. Renate and I just biked 200 miles this weekend.