Ann Arbor boy creates biking event from Michigan Stadium to Spartan Stadium to raise money, awareness for ALS
While the Spartan and Wolverine football teams will be waking up and mentally preparing for the big game Saturday, a group of 15 bikers will hit the road on from Michigan Stadium to Spartan Stadium to raise awareness and funds toward amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
13-year-old Ann Arbor native Sam Sugerman, along with his close friends and family, ventured on an six hour, 65-mile excursion sponsored by Ann Arbor Active Against ALS, also referred to as A2A3, last year on the day of the Michigan-Michigan State football game. The bike ride, which raised $8,000 last year, originally was a project for Sam Sugerman’s bar mitzvah but the overwhelming success sparked interest in having an annual rivalry bike ride.
“Since ALS is a disease that weakens your bones so you can’t really do anything active, I think … it’s a sign of hope for people just because it’s having other people stay active,” Sam Sugerman said.
Andrew Sugerman, Sam Sugerman’s father, said the family ties with MSU and U-M and love for football were two of the main factors that went into the creation of the event.
“We’re big sports fans, I’m a (Michigan) State graduate, my wife is a U-M graduate, the Michigan-Michigan State game was sort of a natural idea to try and do something with,” Andrew Sugerman said. “The distance was right and we thought ‘ok we could ride between the two locations and raise money on game day.’”
The bike ride is supported by A2A3, which publicizes events created by people from the Ann Arbor area. The non-profit initiative came about when a longtime friend, Bob Schoeni, soccer and softball coach, was diagnosed with ALS a few years ago.
“When we found out there was not (a) treatment or cure, we were shocked and found out that it’s an orphan disease, which means there aren’t enough people sick with the disease to make it worthwhile for pharmaceuticals to invest research money,” A2A3 Post Chair and Board Member Suzanne Ross said. “We ended up funding our own nonprofit and it’s turned into this amazing, bringing together of the community.”
Schoeni is neighbors with Ross and has coached her daughter’s soccer and softball teams for a number of years. Also a MSU fan, Schoeni was excited to hear about Sam Sugerman’s idea for a rivalry ride supported by A2A3.
“I think Sam’s effort puts a different spin on the rivalry, that the rivalry, intensity and interest of it can lead to good things. I think there will be a heightened interest in his efforts because in some ways he’s kind of reaching out,” Schoeni said. “Sam is a Michigan State fan, he’s making that connection to try and work together to reach across the aisle to tackle a difficult and serious health condition.”