One morning this past May, a group of SigEp brothers gathered on the campus of the University of California-Berkeley for a post-finals workout unlike any other. The Pedal for Life ride would take them on a 500-mile journey through some of the most scenic vistas in the state. Their two-fold mission was to support a worthy cause while enjoying an adventure that would bring them closer as brothers. The challenging journey took the group through congested city streets, hilly roads and heavy fog, but also included riding through Watsonville’s strawberry fields and along the beautiful beaches of Carmel.
For the last 10 years, the chapter has used the ride as a fundraiser for various charities, with donors contributing in support of the brothers who make this five-day trip. This marks the third year that the chapter has donated the proceeds to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. With $9,000 in donations, the 2016 ride was the chapter’s most successful fundraiser to date for CCFA and nearly doubles its total giving to the organization.
Chapter members were first motivated to raise funds for CCFA in 2014 because of two brothers who are living with Crohn’s disease. In fall 2015, another student with the disease, Kyle McEntush, ’19, joined the chapter. During recruitment, he was impressed by the brothers’ interest in getting to know him as a person. But it was when Spencer Pace, ’15, shared that he had Crohn’s and spoke about the chapter’s commitment to finding a cure that McEntush knew he’d found a home in SigEp.
“The cause only became that much closer to the chapter when I became a brother,” McEntush shared.
Crohn’s and colitis are both major types of inflammatory bowel disease, which causes inflammation and ulcers in the digestive system and often leaves the one in 200 Americans affected in severe pain. Thanks to the support of SigEp’s California-Berkeley Chapter and countless other backers, CCFA’s Genetics Initiative has identified over 100 genes that increase the chance of developing the disease. This means more effective treatments — and eventually, a cure — can be developed.
“This trip marked the 9th year since my diagnosis and the 5th year of my remission. We wanted to transform the typical college road trip into a tangible way of raising money and awareness for a disease that has come to both define my life and give it purpose,” Pace reflected.
With a little over 100 miles to go on the final morning, the riders were physically exhausted but excited and mentally prepared to make the final push to Santa Monica. McEntush said he and the rest of the group erupted into joyful shouts as the outline of the city’s well-known pier came into view. After reaching their destination, the brothers celebrated by taking photos with the friends and family who had been waiting to congratulate them.
At the conclusion of the ride, a tired but pleased McEntush shared his feelings about the trip. “Looking back, I am extremely proud of what we as a chapter have done for both ourselves and CCFA. Not only did we make lifelong memories, but we also raised money for a cause incredibly personal to the chapter.”
For more information about the Pedal for Life ride and to see video highlights from past rides, visit berkeleysigep.org/PFL.