Mercy Health Tour de Rapids – Fun Ride, Great Cause

With nearly 100 people participating as cyclists, the second annual Mercy Health Tour de Rapids proved again to be a fun ride on Saturday, August 27, with the proceeds benefiting the ALS program at Mercy Health, which recently earned designation as a Center of Excellence by the ALS Association.

Including several bike runs and an after-party complete with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Mercy Health Tour de Rapids held something for everyone. Funds raised through Tour de Rapids will help those with ALS and their families, with certain programs like the “Lend a Voice” program and others that help fulfill the specialized needs that those with ALS face.

ice bucket challenge prepkids at Tour de RapidsMike Avery honoring ALS CaregiversColleague Niko Brown volunteering for Tour de Rapidsrace finish after a rainy ride

Special accolades go to Ross Mast, whose story was showcased from an ALS caregiver’s perspective. Mast was presented with the ALS Caring Heart by Mercy Health during the post-race presentation. The ALS Caring Heart is a designation given to any person who has served as a caregiver for someone with ALS, thus, all caregivers who identify themselves as such were given a “caring heart” at the Mercy Health Tour de Rapids.

Mast was nominated by fellow ALS caregiver, Julie Snelling, who wrote the following about Mast:

“Ross Mast was a dedicated and loving caregiver to his wife Susan Mast who died of ALS in November 2014. Susan lived with ALS for four years and Ross was her primary caregiver during her ALS journey.
“I strongly feel all primary caregivers who care for loved ones with ALS deserve an award. What makes Ross stand out as a strong candidate are his significant contributions and actions after Susan passed away.
“Ross is the first to admit he faced caregiver burnout while caring for his wife. He was both physically and mentally exhausted while taking care of Susan’s needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When people offered to help, he politely declined, as he felt no one could care for Susan like he did. In hindsight, Ross realized he needed relief. If he had respite, it would have allowed him to re-energize, making him a better caregiver.
“As a result from his lessons learned, Ross decided to donate a significant amount of money to start an ALS respite fund. Since its inception in 2015, the fund has helped many caregivers. As if that was not enough, Ross decided to expand his ‘respite fund’ and create a nonprofit organization to serve all the needs of ALS families in West Michigan including: respite, loan closet, support groups, home visits, etc. This significant undertaking is replacing his retirement.
“Ross’ wife Susan was the Executive Director at Faith Hospice, where she assisted those in their time of need. Her favorite saying was, ‘It is through serving others that your greatness will be felt.’ In closing, I would like to say – Ross Mast is serving others and his greatness is felt by so many living with ALS in West Michigan.”

Thanks to all the volunteers, riders and post-race celebrants who made Mercy Health Tour de Rapids a success once again!

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