The Ride: Muskegon Stationary Bike Race Raises Money for Mercy Health Heart Programs

Fred Reichert may have been dressed up like a clown, but the fact that the 56-year-old Rothbury man was happily pedaling away on a stationary bike was no joke.

About five years earlier – December 27, 2009 to be exact – Reichert was coding after suffering a heart attack. Medical workers shocked his heart back into action before taking him to Mercy Health Mercy Campus in Muskegon. He eventually received a stent and had a pacemaker implanted.

The road he took to be able to participate in The Ride, a stationary bike race that took place on March 14 at The Lakes Mall in Norton Shores, took a lot of work on his part.

“It makes you feel kind of good that you’re able to do it,” Reichert said. “At least we can still get on a bike and do it.”

stationary bikeReichert and his teammates from the rehab program at Mercy Heart Center were sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. They were dubbed Team Heart Center Carnival Clowns and made a lot of people laugh while pumping their legs and hearts for a good cause.

Reichert admits he didn’t exercise at all prior to his heart attack, but the rehab classes he took at Mercy Heart Center changed all that. He started off going three times per week and once he got a little stronger was able to scale back to twice per week. In the summer, he bike rides with his wife and goes swimming at his son’s place.

Riding for 25 minutes as part of an eight-person team at The Ride just wouldn’t have been something Reichert would have done before his heart attack. He’s participated for the last four years. He rode 10.16 miles this year, the most mileage he’s ever completed. The Carnival Clowns took second place for the most money raised and for best costumes.

Mercy Health Muskegon Community Development Coordinator Amber Wallace said 55 teams competed in The Ride this year and the event’s popularity continues to grow. She said novice riders to pros take part, with the overall goal to promote health and wellness through a heart-healthy lifestyle, as well as raise money for the heart and vascular programs at Mercy Health Muskegon.

“This event is such a great mix! We have riders of all ages, weekend leisurely riders, and professionals, as well,” Wallace said.

It is the only bike event of its kind in Michigan and over the past 11 years, The Ride has hosted over 4,300 participants and raised proceeds of over $450,000, which are designated for specialized cardiac rehab equipment, financial assistance and scholarships for those in need of cardiac rehabilitation, and the development and enhancement of Mercy Health’s High School Heart Screening Program.

Since the screening program began in 2011, four students have been identified with abnormal electrical conduction of the heart and have undergone successful ablation therapy to correct the problem, which could be fatal if not corrected. Many more students have been identified as having hypertension and borderline hypertension, with recommendations to seek follow-up care.

Read about one of Reichert’s fellow clowns, who is also a cardiac rehab patient, on Mercy Health’s blog.

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Photo credit: Holly Alway, Eidetic Imaging (feature), Deane Rimerman via Flickr (inset)

 

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