Rebels with a cause

AU SABLE FORKS - Motorcycle enthusiasts will soon have an excellent opportunity to enjoy a scenic ride through the Adirondacks and a barbecue dinner, all while they support some neighbors in need.

The fourth annual ALS motorcycle rally and poker run is scheduled for May 30, sponsored by the Mountain Riders motorcycle club.

The event originated in 2007 as a benefit for the family of Johnny Nixon, a star athlete at AuSable Valley Central School who was diagnosed with ALS in October 2006 at age 28.

Though Nixon passed away in December of 2007, the club continued to hold the event, raising funds for families dealing with an ALS diagnosis.

"When we started this four years ago, we were thinking we'd just be doing it once," said Kelly Murphy, one of the event's organizers, "but each year it seemed like there was a new case in the area."

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a degenerative neurological disease that progressively reduces the ability to use muscles in the body. Eighty percent of people with the disease die within five years of being diagnosed.

"The goal is to promote the awareness of ALS while being able to raise funds for area residents who are suffering with ALS," Murphy said.

According to Murphy, there have been eight cases of ALS diagnosed among local residents in the past four years, some of whom are still living.

The event has drawn between 70 and 85 bikers and raised about $8,000 each year. A portion of this year's proceeds will go to the Greater New York chapter of the ALS Association, but the funds will primarily be distributed to the families of three local people with ALS.

"We try to take care of the local families first," said Murphy, "because they have so many expenses."

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