Momentous ride ends in Golden

600-mile bicycle journey to raise money and awareness for Angelman Syndrome

Posted 8/7/17

On any given afternoon, odds are good you can find folks enjoying something to eat and drink in the Mountain Toad craft brewery beer garden in Golden after a bike ride.

Sunday was no exception, with Dennis Vanderheiden and PJ Snyder both …

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Momentous ride ends in Golden

600-mile bicycle journey to raise money and awareness for Angelman Syndrome

Posted

On any given afternoon, odds are good you can find folks enjoying something to eat and drink in the Mountain Toad craft brewery beer garden in Golden after a bike ride.

Sunday was no exception, with Dennis Vanderheiden and PJ Snyder both enjoying some post-ride pizza.

Of course, Vanderheiden and Snyder’s ride was longer than most — 600 miles to be exact. Plus, Vandenheiden did all the pedaling. Snyder suffers from Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes seizures, spinal curvature and balance issues, so he rode in a bike trailer the entire way from the Four Corner’s region of the state, all the way to Golden.

The ride, named “Four Corners to a Home,” was done to raise money for an eventual home for Snyder, who turned 31 during the ride,where he can live out his life, as well as raising awareness and research funding for Angelman Syndrome.

“He loves to be outdoors, and he loves the attention,” said Cindy Snyder, PJ’sadoptive mother. PJ sat next to her in his wheelchair. Although rendered nonverbal by the disease, he smiled and held the celebratory balloons that helped greet him at the end of the ride.

The two of them live in an appartment in the Edgewater/Wheat Ridge area. They decided to end the ride in Golden, because the Golden or Wheat Ridge area would be where she would love to see the two of them find a permanent home.

“Everything went well,” said Vanderheiden, munching on pizza between interview answers.

A multi-sport athlete from Ft. Collins, Vanderheiden has participated in more than 70 bike and running events with PJ over the years, including a full Ironman triathlon.

Even with pulling an additional 100 pounds of weight behind his bike for 13 days, over uphill climbs the likes of Monarch Pass and Trail Ridge Road, Vandenheider said his toughest challenges were largely mental.

“We made our destination on the first day, found some shade and I just collapsed there and thought, I don’t know if I can do this,’ “ Vanderheiden recalled.

But partnered with the Snyders for support, and with a documentary film crew along for the ride, Vanderheiden said he knew he had to find a way.

The documentary, which Vanderheiden said will include interviews with doctors and Angelman Syndrome patients across the country, is not expected to be finished for a year. In the meantime, Snyder and Vanderheiden still have quite a few events on their calendar for the rest of the year.

When asked about what he tells people who ask him for advice about finding ways to help those less fortunate, he says he tries to encourage them to find their own way of helping.

“We inherently want to help people,” Vanderheiden said. “Go do it, because the rewards are great.”

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