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Dean, wife bike from Ariz. to ND for cause

Courtenay Devlin | Saturday, August 21, 2010

College of Science Dean Gregory Crawford and his wife Renate have encountered 42 flat tires and a few tarantulas while biking 2,200 across the country.

The couple is raising money to represent the newly-enhanced relationship between Notre Dame and the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, which united to support research dedicated to finding a cure for Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) disease, according to the Crawfords’ blog documenting their experience.

The couple will arrive at Main Circle on Monday between noon and 1:30 p.m.

In their blog, the Craw-fords wrote that they are making the 2,200-mile challenge to raise awareness about NPC and the new partnership as well as to raise funds.

This partnership will also be a model for future research projects of Notre Dame’s Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases.

The Parseghian Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to funding medical research projects to find  treatments and a cure for NPC, a deadly neurodegenerative disease.

Since they began their journey on July 24 in Tuscon, Ariz., Crawford said they have biked in six states and have overcome many challenges. On their longest travel day, the couple rode 120 miles through Texas.

“By far, [the most rewarding part of the trip] has been meeting the Notre Dame family along the way,” Crawford said.

Cindy and Mike Parseghian, both 1977 graduates of Notre Dame, established the foundation in 1994 because of the diagnosis of NPC for three of their four children.

“It has been wonderful working with Cindy and Mike Parseghian, Coach Ara and the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation,” he said. “They turned their hardship into hope for so many others.”

The foundation currently funds 25 labs researching NPC, according to Notre Dame’s College of Science website. It has been a sponsor of medical breakthroughs including the identification of the gene responsible for NPC1, and the discovery of cholesterol pathway that occurs in all humans.

After already biking over 2,000 miles, the Crawfords have hit the home stretch. Crawford said they have confidence in achieving the 2,200-mile goal.

“We will succeed because of our common vision and direction, our unity of purpose, our sense of camaraderie and cooperation and our spirit of commitment to the values and vocation that have always guided the College of Science,” the Crawfords wrote in the blog.