Tri-State Trek Rider Profile: Lisa Bannon

Cycling / Events

Here at the ALS Therapy Development Institute, one of our largest annual fundraisers is the Tri-State Trek, a 270-mile bicycle ride from Newton, Massachusetts to Greenwich, Connecticut happening this year from July 19-21. Last year, Eastern Mountain Sports gave me the opportunity to write about my personal connection to the cause, along with my top reasons why riders of all abilities should consider joining us on this great adventure. This year, I thought I’d give that same opportunity to some of the folks I’ve had the pleasure of riding with over the years. Over the next few months, I’ll be featuring them here on the EMS blog in the hopes that they inspire you to either accept the challenge of riding with us, donate to the cause, volunteer along the route or simply come out and cheer for us as we ride by.

Whatever you’re able to do will be tremendously appreciated by all who ride and ultimately, by thousands of ALS patients, their families and friends.

lisabreen2011

Breen and Lisa Bannon during the 2011 Trek

 

 

 

Name: Lisa Bannon

Age: 50-ish

Hometown: Glen Ridge, NJ

Tri State Trek Team Name: Crush ALS/Team Bannon

 

 

 

How many times have you ridden the TST:

This year will be my 5th

Who or what inspires you to ride the Tri-State Trek?

I ride in memory of my brother Chuck Bannon who died of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2009 at the age of 44.

Chuck 2006

Chuck Bannon, before his ALS diagnosis, with his son John in 2006.

What’s the worst part about having or knowing someone with ALS?

For those who don’t know about it, ALS is among the most cruel and devastating diseases that exists. My family and I had never heard of it until Chuck was diagnosed out of the blue in 2006. It strikes healthy people, many who are quite young, without warning and without any cause. The diagnosis is literally a death sentence. Its progression varies, but generally ALS victims suffer total paralysis and death within three to five years.

IMG_1303

Breen, Chuck and John Bannon in 2008.

The worst part about knowing someone with ALS, particularly someone you love, is the feeling of utter powerlessness to help them. There is no effective treatment for the disease and there is no cure. Our family had no option but to watch helplessly while my healthy, gorgeous brother–a talented mechanical engineer at Ford Motor Co. who was married and had a young son–gradually lost all ability to move. In three years, he went from being an athletic 41-year-old, who raced motorcycles at an expert level, to being completely paralyzed in a wheelchair, unable to talk or eat. It was excruciating to live through and my family vowed to do something about it.

What’s the best part about the ALS TDI Tri State Trek?

There are so many great things about the Trek! Getting in amazing shape, pushing yourself physically beyond what you considered possible, meeting so many extraordinarily determined athletes. But the best part for me is knowing that the money we raise for the Trek goes directly to researching treatments and possible cures for ALS. This gives me, and my other brother Breen Bannon who rides with me, a sense of doing something constructive and pro-active to battle this deadly disease. We weren’t able to save our brother, but we promised him we would keep fighting to find a cure. The Trek, which is run by ALS-TDI in Boston, gives us a meaningful way to accomplish this goal. This year, we hope to surpass $100,000 total raised by Crush ALS/Team Bannon, cumulatively over five years.

How much riding/training do you do to prepare for the ride?

I start training intensively 12 weeks before the Trek, by riding, running and working out. I gradually build up from riding three times a week about 30-60 miles, to five days per week, about 150 miles or so per week. By the end of the training period, I’ve generally logged more than 1,000 miles in training.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about registering for the ride, but is feeling nervous?

I was out of shape and a complete novice when I decided to ride my first Trek in 2009. It was a brutal experience, but through obsessive training and sheer force of will, I was able to finish. It showed me that anyone can do this if they set their mind to it and train properly. So come on out and try it! We’ll help you…

 

Dave Virden


Dave is a married father of two who, for the bulk of his career, was a consumer products marketing guy working on products like Dunkin' Donuts, Volkswagen & Samuel Adams brews. In 2006 his Dad was diagnosed with ALS (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease) and everything changed. Dave wanted to immediately apply his marketing experience to ALS, generating the awareness and advocacy the disease so sorely needs. Fulfilling that goal, he now works as a Development Director at the ALS Therapy Development Institute in Cambridge, MA (www.als.net). A five-time rider in the annual ALS TDI Tri-State Trek - a 3 day, 270 mile bike ride from Boston to Greenwich, CT raising funds and awareness for ALS research - he is now part of the team producing the ride (www.tristatetrek.com).