13.12.2017

One Man Rides 560 Miles To Raise Awareness of Retinitis Pigmentosa

Attorney Joe Lucas is on a mission to raise awareness for retinitis pigmentosa. But he isn't just making a few speeches or writing blog posts. No, that'd be too easy for Mr. Lucas. Instead, Lucas decided to bicycle 560 miles from Manistique, Michigan, to Chicago last May.

The entire bike ride took Lucas ten days to complete. At the end of his exhausting trip, Lucas raised over $9,000 for the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

Lucas was driven to complete this bike ride for his two children. Both of Lucas' boys were born with retinitis pigmentosa.

Lucas' wife, Dr. Mary Lee Fugina, said she first noticed their children had eye issues when they experienced night blindness. Although it's been challenging, thankfully both boys haven't been blinded by the genetic disorder.

Every day of this bike ride Lucas had to pedal over 100 miles to meet his ten-day limit. He didn't bring any food, tents, or sleeping bags with him. When asked what he did for sleeping and eating, Lucas just said, "Hotels and restaurants."

Interestingly, Lucas said this ride made him appreciative of his sense of hearing. He said good hearing was much more important than sight while riding his bike. This was especially true in small towns. Since there's more traffic and no bike lanes in small towns, bikers really need to listen for cars all around them to avoid a serious accident.

While Lucas had a rough sketch of his overall course, he said he just took one day at a time. Lucas told reporters he couldn't "overly plan," otherwise he'd just get "overwhelmed."

Another issue Lucas had on this trip was an extreme rainstorm. Luckily, Lucas did travel with plenty of protective clothing to keep him safe on his trek. He also met with colleagues from his law office in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Lucas credits the people at Barrington Bike Shop with helping him prepare for this epic trek.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness was founded in 1971 to raise funds for research into diseases related to retinal degeneration. This non-profit organization is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland.

Retinitis pigmentosa is a relatively rare eye disease that is often spotted in childhood. A few symptoms children notice include tunnel vision, night blindness, and difficulty seeing in dimly lit areas.

There isn't a treatment for retinitis pigmentosa yet, but there are ways doctors can control the symptoms if they catch the disease early enough. All retinitis pigmentosa patients are urged to wear high-quality sunglasses while outside.


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