RYE, N.Y. -- For many Westchester athletes, giving back is just as important as staying fit.
“One of things I love about the Westchester Triathlon is that 100 percent of my race fee goes to charities,” says John Weber of Rye, a 6-year participant of the annual Olympic distance triathlon. Like the past 34 years, the triathlon events at Rye Town Park this September 24 and 25 will raise thousands of dollars for local charities.
The 2016 Westchester Triathlon supports eight charities, including the Larchmont-based MAC Angels Foundation, whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for patients, family members and caregivers impacted daily by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a degenerative and debilitating disease that damages the brain and spinal cord, resulting in a loss of voluntary muscle movement, eventually making it difficult for ALS patients to walk, talk and breathe.
While many organizations focus on finding treatments and a cure, MAC Angels fills the care gap for ALS families. They help families overcome obstacles to accessing care, such as a ride to a clinic, equipment such as hospital beds or shower chairs, support and information.
“We truly become part of each family in many ways,” says Ellen DiCicco, program director. “If we don't know the answer to their questions, then we find out. We never say no and we are available 24/7, providing our services free of charge.” Since 2010 MAC Angels has helped more than 350 families manage the devastating effects of the disease.
For participants like John Weber, the toughest 1.3 mile climb of the bike race is also the most poignant.
Named “Claire’s Climb” in honor of Claire Gormley Collier, whose courageous battle with ALS ended in 2009, it provides perspective and inspiration to participants who are encouraged up the hill by the din of cowbells and the cheering of MAC Angels volunteers.