Mt. Equinox, VT – 2007 Gear Up For Lyme Rotary Bike Climb

Mt. Equinox, VT – Gear Up For Lyme Rotary Bike Climb

Mt. Equinox, VT – Gear Up For Lyme Rotary Bike Climb

Mt Equinox Bike Climb (VT) Gear Up for Lyme August 4, 2007 Remarks of Pat Smith, LDA President

As Americans, we are constantly concerned with the concept of freedom–freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, and freedom of the press. There is another kind of freedom which we do not think about which we are rapidly losing, the freedom to enjoy the great outdoors without contracting severely debilitating diseases, diseases which some say are easy to diagnose and easy to cure, like Lyme disease.

Those who have acquired Lyme and their families know this is not the case—Lyme is difficult to diagnose, difficult to treat, and more difficult, if not impossible, to cure when you develop it chronically. The same people who speak about how simple Lyme disease is also say the chances of contracting it are slim. Since the Manchester Rotary initiated this Gear Up for Lyme event four years ago, Lyme in Vermont has increased more than 4 fold according to VT Department of Health Statistics for Lyme with a Vermont exposure (2003/17 to 2006/63).

The United Nations is now writing reports about how global warming is enabling ticks to spread worldwide and move northward, where according to a 2007 report, they have been observed in Sweden in January and also near the Arctic Circle. Many of us in the NE do not need to read the reports to know that ticks are appearing in here in January on a regular basis and infecting people. The aggressive lone star tick is expanding its range to spread the whole host of diseases it carries further north than ever, invading even Maine.

Yet the government continues to give credence to those who spread information designed to lull people into a false sense of security and not designed to empower people to take the steps necessary to protect themselves.

We need to take back our control over the environment, we need to take steps through education and through research to get back to an environment where a walk or ride through the woods or hugging of the family dog will not signal cause for alarm.

Part of the monies raised here today will do just that. LDA and its CT affiliate, Time for Lyme, partnered to open on April 30, 2007, the Lyme & Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University, now we need continue the funding of important projects which will include examining ticks for other infective organisms, looking for the elusive gold standard test for Lyme disease, and finding a cure.

Your efforts have paid off to date and will continue to move the field of Lyme disease forward. We thank the Rotary, the riders, and the Holzmans whose dedication has made this annual event very successful both in raising awareness and in raising funds for research. Together, we can regain the freedom to enjoy the outdoors and find a cure for those already afflicted with this incapacitating disease.

Thank you.