WKU students to bike 3,600 miles for Alzheimer’s

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.- “I got to see a man who has taught me chess, has been there for me like all my life and I got to see what Alzheimer’s actually does to the mind. And how it affects people you once knew and it really changes their personality.” 

Junior Western Kentucky student Justin Gilear has watched his grandfather’s mental health deteriorate since he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago. 

That’s why he’s one of the students biking 3,600 miles for Alzheimer’s, called Bike4Alz.

His fellow teammate, Cy Whitler, also has a personal connection to the cause. 

“My great-grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s, and I saw how that affected our family, I’ve seen how that’s affected us for generations now. We’re always a bit worried about it because Alzheimer’s is genetic,” said Whitler. 

The group of 14 students are taking off in San Francisco, California, and ending in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In between biking around 80 miles every day, they stop in communities to spread awareness of the impact of the disease. They take off on the three month journey on May 18th. 

“Now that we’re getting down to the wire, we’re leaving very soon, I’m getting nervous but with that I’m getting more and more excited all the time. Our team members are all incredibly passionate because each one of us has a connection to Alzheimer’s so we just kind of build off of one another,” said Whitler. 

Last year, they weren’t able to make the cross country trek because of the pandemic. This year is even more special because the entire time has been vaccinated. 

If you want to support them, the Bike4Alz team is holding a fundraiser at Blaze Pizza on Thursday night from 5 to 8 p.m.