Pedaling to Cure PKD
Last month, friends Thomas MacAulay, Bill King, Mike Bizal, Ed Williams, Art Berger, and Chuck Mattioni set out on an 18-day biking Tour down the Pacific Coast Highway from Seattle to San Diego to raise awareness for PKD. This epic journey, which covered 1,800 miles and inspired others to donate over $10,000 toward PKD research, was ultimately made in memory of lives lost too soon to PKD. We recently spoke with Tom MacAulay about his experience on the Tour de PCH and his inspiration to take the ride.
PKD Foundation: How has PKD affected you?
Tom MacAulay: My grandson, Bowen Thomas Gillis, was born with PKD. Bowen only lived a short time, 13 days. He passed away five years ago but he greatly impacted our family and faith in learning how to cope with loss. Like me, his mother and father, Heather and Mac Gillis, have also done multiple fundraising events.
PKDF: What inspired you to bike the Tour de PCH?
PKDF: How would you describe your experience with your fellow bikers along the way?
TM: Ed, Chuck and Art rode cross-country four years ago and they wanted to do another long-distance tour. The rest of us signed up for the adventure. It was really Art’s idea to ride to support a cause. PKD was on my mind because of how it had impacted our family, but Art was inspired by how his neighbor Connie had been affected by PKD, too. Connie lost her daughter, Amy, to PKD 23 years ago. She generously sponsored our bike jerseys, which have Amy and Bowen’s initials encircled in hearts on the front.
PKDF: How do you plan to continue to fundraise post-Tour?
TM: As a group we all got along great. All sorts of people were interested in hearing what we were doing and why, like other bikers and people that we would run into in restaurants and hotels. Definitely check out Art’s day 14 post on his blog. We ran into a California state trooper whose family was impacted by PKD. We also ran into a man named Ron outside of the grocery store and he listen to our story and went to the site to donate $100 after reading about PKD. Also very touching was Sue, a woman we ran into at a grocery store. She did not have much to spare but gave us three dollars to donate to PKD research. At another grocery store we ran into a couple who spotted our jerseys and came up and talk to us about PKD—the man had had a transplant and his whole family has been affected by the disease.
TM: We will continue to wear our jerseys, spreading awareness and opportunities for people to donate.
PKDF: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about fundraising for the Foundation?
TM: Definitely use social media to get the word out, it’s a good networking tool.
Learn how you can use your unique ideas and events to fundraise for the PKD Foundation at DIY for PKD.
The Pedaling to Cure PKD Team includes Art Berger, Ed Williams, Thomas MacAulay, Bill King, Mike Bizal and Chuck Mattioni, all of whom are avid bikers. The group ranges in age from 41 to 68, with most of them still working with flexible schedules that allowed for the Tour. While Tom MacAulay does not belong to a PKD Chapter, he has supported his daughter, Heather, in Run for PKD events over the last five years.