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Resident treks across three states for ALS research

With the ultimate goal of finding a treatment or a cure for an unforgiving disease, one Duxbury resident will trek from Newton to Greenwich, Conn., in a three-day bike trip to raise funds and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

This July, Duxbury resident Karen Nutter (pictured at right) will join over 400 men and women to ride in the 11th annual Tri-State Trek, a three-day, 270 mile bicycle ride from Boston to Greenwich to raise money for research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

ALS, commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that often leads to paralysis and eventually death. Most patients do not survive five years with the disease. There is no cure or effective treatment for the more than 30,000 people in the U.S. affected by the disease.

A wide spread disease, ALS had been in the news lately, as former Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci passed away of complications from ALS this past weekend, he was 65.

Nutter was inspired to participate in the grueling bike ride after her mother passed away from ALS 12 years ago. She will ride for Pat’s Pride, in honor of her mother. When she bought a new bike a few years ago, she met a woman from Norwell who had also lost her mother to the disease. It was then that they decided to join in the ride together to try to find a cure.

“Everyone at the trek has been touched in one way by this disease, whether it is through a family member, as a care giver, or a friend,” Nutter said. “People from all over the country come to this event, become one group and join in unison to find a cure.”

Nutter, who participated in the event for the first time last year, said the ride it one of the most invigorating experiences she has had.

“What we do on this ride, and what we experience, is nothign compared to the suffering of those diagnosed with the disease," she said. "When you are told you have ALS, you've basically been given a death sentence. We'd like to change that."

At the end of the trek, with only 10 miles left to the finish line, Nutter said there is a large hill the riders have to climb. After 260 miles, the hill seems too big to climb, but Nutter said she had a little bit of help.

“It seems like the most grueling hill in the world,” she said. “But, amazingly, I felt I had my mother, my angel, pushing me up that hill to the top. There are no words to describe that feeling.”

Nutter has been training for the past year for this ride, spending five or six hours each day on the weekends riding around and conditioning her body to handle long distances. Some days she rides down to the Cape and other times she rides out around Plympton. She said she likes to ride around towns that she normally would drive right past.

Nutter said the minimum goal is to raise $1,800 per team for the ride, but said she would like to raise more. Some teams, she said, have raised as much as $20,000. The Tri-State Trek is an annual event created and produced by the ALS Therapy Development Institute. More than $3 million have been raised by riders and volunteers at the Trek. The Trek will take place this July 19-21.

“There is nothing like the community feeling you get from riding with everyone over those three days,” Nutter said. “When we reach the finish line and see the patients with ALS waiting for us, it’s an unbelievable feeling. They know they won't see what comes of our fundraising, but they know we will help find a treatment or a cure."