Relatives of recent Santa Clara alumnus race to raise awareness
THE SANTA CLARA
May 22, 2014
In an attempt to find a cure for a rare neuromuscular disorder, the Rupel family will be competing in a 60-mile cycling event in honor of their son. Matt Rupel, now 23, graduated from Santa Clara in 2013.
The Rupels who reside in Santa Clara are all recessive carriers of Friedreich’s ataxia, a genetically inherited disease that attacks the body’s nervous system and muscles. Matt Rupel was diagnosed with the condition in the eighth grade.
The Rupel family plans to raise $10,000 as part of a 13-man team, which includes family friends. The event Ride Ataxia NorCal as a whole aims to raise $125,000 for research through donations from riders and outside spectators.
While Matt Rupel’s father and sister, Bart and Katie, will be competing in the race, his mother, Brenda, will be following to assist the riders if problems arise. Both Bart and Brenda Rupel are Santa Clara alumni as well, having graduated in ‘85 and ‘86 respectively.
The Rupels frequently cycle in events across the country to fundraise for a cure for Friedreich’s ataxia. As the event draws near, the family has been biking distances up to 60 miles in preparation for the race on May 31 in Davis, Calif.
Matt Rupel is currently participating in a drug trial to treat his disease, as there is currently no definitive cure for Friedreich’s ataxia. Despite this fact, Rupel’s father, Bart, believes that fundraisers like Ride Ataxia NorCal do make a difference for individuals with the condition.
“I’m pretty optimistic (that) within the next 10 years we will have a cure,” Bart said.
“I’m pretty optimistic (that) within the next 10 years we will have a cure.”
Matt served as editor-in-chief of The Santa Clara from 2011 to 2013. He was recently hospitalized for respiratory problems while visiting family in El Paso, Texas, but was discharged on Tuesday. Although he will not participate, his father says Matt plans to attend for support.
Bart Rupel believes that the event is beneficial for both researchers and families affected by Friedrich’s ataxia.
“It helps the community stay motivated to see what we can do, and it helps connect the researchers to the families,” said Rupel. “Often times, companies involved in research (get to) see the families and see how determined we are.”
Ride Ataxia Norcal is sponsored by the Friedrieich’s ataxia Research Alliance.
Contact Eduardo Cuevas at email@example.com .