Vail man completes bike ride across the U.S. for PKD | VailDaily.com
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Vail man completes bike ride across the U.S. for PKD

Glenn Frommer rode over 5,400 miles to raise awareness and money for polycystic kidney disease research

After biking for 100 days and covering 5,542 miles across 18 states, Glenn Frommer is happy to be back at home in Vail after completing the RideForPKD, a challenge Frommer dreamed up to help raise awareness, build community and fund a cure for polycystic kidney disease.

Frommer set out from San Francisco, CA on May 1 and rolled to Cape Cod, Mass., on Sept. 3 after climbing 224,000 vertical feet and spinning his legs 1.46 million pedal strokes. Frommer was diagnosed with PKD in 2014 and after learning more about the disease and lack of funding for research, he decided to do something about it.

Frommer had been an avid cyclist for over 35 years and he combined that passion along with his experience of being a venture capitalist, running small companies and investing in start-up businesses into creating the RideForPKD.



The route may have gone from coast to coast, but it was not a straight line. Frommer made sure that his pathways crossed with as many research institutions as he could.

One of the goals of the RideForPKD was advocating for legislative priorities. Along the route, Frommer met with men and women from Congress, like Sharice Davids from Kansas City, MO.
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PKD is a complex genetic disease that was only identified within the past four decades. Recent findings have led to a much better understanding of what is happening that leads to cyst development in one’s kidneys and liver, but not why it is happening, so significant research is occurring to understand the genetic messaging and mechanisms of cyst formation and growth.

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“The PKD research community is very tight and very collaborative and as I traveled across the country and met with hundreds of researchers from dozens of universities it became clear to me that deep and broad collaboration between the universities was a critical component to making progress on the disease,” Frommer said.

Frommer not only took time off the bike to meet with researchers, but he also met with hundreds of PKD patients.

“I met families who lost infants to PKD at 37 days of age, teenagers who are already on dialysis, young adults in their 20s and 30s who have already had multiple kidney transplants, patients in their 40s and 50s struggling to hold on to any kidney function that they still have left and others in the 60s and 70s who suffer from several of PKD’s side effects,” Frommer said. “This shows how tricky PKD is as a disease, affecting so many people in so many different, but always devastating ways.”



To help gain awareness of the RideForPKD Frommer had several media stops scheduled along the trip, including the WCBS-TV station in New York City.
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Meeting with the researchers and patients solidified Frommer’s reasons for riding across America.

“We were also able to share valuable resources like the PKD Foundation, best practices and encourage sufferers to engage in clinical trials and the PKD Registry, to help researchers help our community,” Frommer said. “While more funding is needed, these facts give me great hope that these dedicated researchers will one day develop treatments and find a cure for our disease.”

The support Frommer received also gave him hope, even on the worst days. He was inspired by the views from the Pacific Coast Highway, the Grand Canyon and the rolling hills of Maryland and Connecticut. But early on, on the second day of the ride, a mishap with the hitch on the RV Frommer and his wife Beth were calling home on their trek across the states and bad directions from his GPS almost made him call it quits.

“It felt like I was in an episode of “Lost,” where the compass and GPS were being jammed by some mysterious force and I had no idea where I should go. I shut off the GPS unit and, to be honest, I thought about throwing it into oncoming traffic and being done with it!” Frommer exclaimed.

But some good directions from an attendant at a local convenience store got Frommer back on the iconic Route 66 out of Southern California and on his way eastbound.

Throughout the RideForPKD friends, family and supporters were invited to join Frommer for a few miles. This group gathering was in Central Park in New York City.
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Frommer credits his team for helping make this journey a reality. Frommer’s wife, Beth, was tasked with all the logistics regarding navigation and the RV, which they affectionately called the “Blue Whale” and dealt with reservations across campsites from state to state, set up, tear down, driving and meal prep. His sister, Amy Riemer, managed the PR campaign, the marketing program such as website, social media, email campaigns, silent auctions, video production, publishing, merchandise sales and everything in between.

Frommer also had friends and supporters who would ride with him when he traveled near their hometowns and helped him pass the time. Emotions came to a head when Frommer neared the finish line, with multitudes of family and friends in tow in Massachusetts.

As the final miles ticked along, Frommer was surrounded by his wife Beth and other family members ranging in age from 8 to 80 as they approached the Atlantic Coast. Many riders headed down to the water for the tire-dipping ceremony, when the emotions finally popped for Frommer.

“Once we submerged ourselves in the Atlantic it finally felt real and I was so excited to be surrounded by all the love and support from loved ones,” Frommer said. “I guess to sum it all up, reaching Cape Cod was the end of the riding but not the end of the journey or the mission, but celebrating with loved ones was an incredibly special moment that I will forever be grateful for.”

Gratitude has been the consistent emotion Frommer has felt for the past year while planning this ride.  

“I’m so grateful for sponsors, donors, the media, the PKD Foundation, my family, our volunteers, my sister Amy for all of her tireless support and Beth for being the MVP of the RideForPKD in every way.”

Not one to rest, Frommer will be taking advantage of September being PKD Awareness Month and will continue to be a crusader for this disease and close the gap to reach his monetary goal for the RideForPKD. He and his team has raised $615,000 and they hope to raise $640,000 to help fund research projects. Frommer even said he will match dollar for dollar, all funds that come in between now and Sept. 30 to get the money raised to fund four research projects.

Frommer will be hosting a virtual RideForPKD Celebration Zoom call on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 5:30 p.m. The call will celebrate the conclusion of the ride and connect donors and non-donors to the researchers and PKD community members around the country who met Frommer along the way, as well as the key sponsors and donors who supported the cause. You can join the Zoom Celebration by registering for free at RideForPKD.org.


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