Newton teen Ezra Sonderling (16) set out on a cross-country trek today to benefit The Jett Foundation, an organization that raises funds and awareness for boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Duchenne is the #1 genetic killer of children in the world with no approved treatment. Boys are typically diagnosed by age five, confined to a wheelchair by age 12 and succumb to the dreadful disease in their early 20s.
Sonderling departed Astoria, OR on the JettRide’ s 15-state, 3,500-mile journey that will end in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ on August 15. He will be joined by Medway’s Delaney Branigan (15) and Plainville’s Kaitlyn Hastings (17) on July 1 after they wrap up their school year. JettRiders bike for kids who can’t. They visit Duchenne families and landmarks like Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park as they traverse the country raising funds and awareness for Duchenne. Over the course of two months, youth riders benefit from philanthropic goodwill, physical exercise, exposure to new places, big-picture perspective and empathy for those in need.
Since 2007 Duchenne family members, relatives, friends and supporters of other neuromuscular disorders have pledged funds, donated their time and channeled positive energy via the summer JettRide. In addition to the three Massachusetts teens, 2014 JettRiders include Julianna Gabel (15) of Curtice, OH, Jack Van Houten (18) of Hartland, MI and Colby Chase (17) of Lincoln, NH. JettRide teen participants are guided by adult ride leaders. The group winds their way across country spending time with Duchenne families, and educating new audiences about the disease that randomly occurs in 1 out of 3,500 births. Pembroke’s Christine McSherry, Founder and Executive Director of the Jett Foundation and mother of 19-old Duchenne patient Jett McSherry, describes the JettRide as an “incredible opportunity to see the Unites States, get some physical activity and build lifelong friendships.”
Last summer Sonderling of Newton rode from Charleston, SC to San Diego, CA with a teen group – experiencing the camaraderie, joys and trials of bike touring. Upon return he participated in road and cyclocross races, and started working at a local bicycle shop. He enthusiastically raised more than $11,000 in JettRide fundraising pledges. Delaney Branigan of Medway is showing her support for her cousin Ryan, a Duchenne patient. At press time, Delaney was just $500 shy of her $4,000 fundraising goal. Kaitlyn Hasting’s motivation hits close to home – she is riding for her 12-year old brother Ryan, a Duchenne patient, for the second year in a row. Hastings describes the JettRide experience as an amazing opportunity; her favorite part of the ride is spending time with the amazing DMD families that host JettRiders.
Proceeds raised through the JettRide and other Foundation fundraising endeavors go toward the Jett Program for Pediatric Neuromuscular Disorders at Mass General Hospital for Children in Boston, MA. In addition, a portion of this year’s JettRide proceeds will go towards IPads for Duchenne patients. On an ongoing basis, the Jett Foundation provides resources for families affected by the disease and introduces them to revolutionary treatments and adaptive activities.JettRide sponsors include BIKEternity LLC, Ryan’s Quest, Aqua Jett Pool & Spa, Outback Kayak, Perky Jerky and Panda Express. Cure Dale’s Duchenne and John Owen’s Adventure will have team members participating for portions of the race too. Donations are gratefully accepted at http://www.firstgiving.com/11421/event-jettride-2014. Nearly $24,000 has been raised for the JettRide, and the Jett Foundation has raised over $2 million for Duchenne research since 2001.