California Coast Classic Bike Tour | San Francisco – Los Angeles | Sept 24 – Oct 1, 2016
Meet Mariah Zebrowski Leach of Louisville, Colorado, who was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the tender age of 25. Ever since, she has dedicated herself to not only thriving despite her challenges, but also helping others. This year, she is being honored by the Arthritis Foundation’s California Coast Classic Bike Tour (affectionately known as the CCC) for her efforts and support of fellow patients while also raising awareness about arthritis and other chronic illnesses. She is a true hometown hero, proudly representing Colorado and demonstrating a selfless commitment to helping others that is rarely seen.
The CCC 2016
This years 16th annual CCC will be held September 24 – October 1, 2016. Originating in the heart of San Francisco, and finishing up in Los Angeles, the route travels over 500 miles. That’s eight scenic days along the coastline via Highway 1, this is a full-service ride setting the stage for the experience of a lifetime. All experience levels are welcomed to participate and take in the beautiful scenery including wineries, lighthouses, and beaches galore.
The CCC benefits the Arthritis Foundation by raising critical funds required to continue the search for a cure for arthritis. Are you ready to ride? If so, you’d better act fast. As of the writing of this blog there were only 10 spots remaining! Riders can sign-up individually or as a team, or join pre-existing teams already registered.
More About Mariah Zebrowski Leach
With such an early onset of the disease (average age of onset is 30-60), Mariah endured two pregnancies while also battling the struggles associated with RA. Directly due to this experience, she has focused on supporting women with chronic illnesses who are mothers, pregnant, or planning to become mothers.
Since her early diagnosis, she has become an advocate for RA in many ways, including sharing her story on her blog From This Point. Forward. She also writes for RheumatoidArthritis.net, contributes to advocacy efforts through the Arthritis Foundation and Seth’s 50 State Network, and serves as a panelist on Creaky Joint’s ‘Joint Decisions’ program. Her family has raised over $40,000 for arthritis research since 2010 and she is currently training with her husband, Austin Leach, to cycle 525 miles in the 2016 CCC Bike Tour.
In addition to all of that, Mariah also runs a private Facebook group called Mamas Facing Forward to provide support and a sense of community for mothers (and those to-be) that are living with chronic illnesses. And she keeps on going, with a recent guest article publication for NewLifeOutlook about being a mother and having RA. Congratulations to her and best wishes for a successful 2016 CCC!
More about Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is commonly defined as: “a chronic progressive disease causing inflammation in the joints and resulting in painful deformity and immobility, especially in the fingers, wrists, feet, and ankles.” RA affects nearly 1.5 million people in the U.S. alone. Almost three times as many women have RA as men. For women, RA most commonly begins between ages 30 and 60. In men, it often occurs later in life. Having a family member with RA increases the odds of having it; however, the majority of people with RA have no family history of the disease.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has the following information about Rheumatoid Arthritis. RA is an autoimmune disease causing systemic inflammation that affects the joints in the body. The inflammation typically is found on the lining of the joints (a.k.a. the synovial membrane). This inflamed joint lining leads to degradation of the bone and cartilage, sometimes causing deformity. Pain, swelling, and redness are common symptoms seen in these affected joints. The causes of RA are unknown, but it is thought to stem from a problematic immune response (autoimmune). There is no cure for RA, but effective drugs are increasingly available to treat RA and prevent joint deformity, and surgery can help with joint deformity issues. Perhaps the best options are scientifically-proven self-management techniques that people can use to treat their condition on a daily basis, such as exercise, which can reduce pain and disability.
More about the CCC
The CCC has the following mission from their website: “As the nation’s leading cause of disability, arthritis causes unacceptable pain and robs one in every five adults and 300,000 children of living life to its fullest. The Arthritis Foundation leads the way in helping people with arthritis live better today and create better tomorrows through new treatments, better access and, ultimately, cures.” Further, “As the nation’s largest private funder of research, public health programs and advocacy on behalf of the 50 million Americans with this painful disease, the Arthritis Foundation aims to reduce the number of people suffering from arthritis-related physical activity limitations by 20 percent by 2030.”