On a mission, riders honor son’s memory from coast to coast

PITTSFORD — Charlie Read was not yet 12 years old when he biked a 70-mile trail near his home in Shutesbury, Massachusetts. Charlie was the youngest cyclist to ever master the hilly course — and he felt pretty good about it.

“After that ride, he said, ‘I felt like I could do anything,’' recalled Charlie’s mom, Arleen Read.

But Charlie had epilepsy. Occasional seizures never slowed him down until last summer when epilepsy took his life at age 16. Charlie died of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy. About one in 1,000 adults and one in 4,500 children with epilepsy die from SUDEP, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.

Before Charlie died, the Read family dream was to ride coast to coast. On June 18, Charlie’s parents, Arleen and Clif, and a group of friends set out from the northwest coast of Washington state on a sea-to-sea ride to make that dream come true — for Charlie. And to raise money for the Epilepsy Foundation.

They call their ride C2C4Charlie. Riders are taking turns and encouraging donations to the SUDEP Institute of the Epilepsy Foundation, which carries out SUDEP Education and Awareness programs, supports research into the causes and prevention, and provides counseling and resources for families affected by SUDEP.

On Friday, now pedaling east through upstate New York, the group stopped for the night in Pittsford where friends Rick and Nancy Haggerty hosted the cyclists for a buffet and barbecue. Arriving just before a rain shower, Arleen and Clif, still in their C2C4Charlie shirts, talked about the adventure so far that will end Aug. 12 in Boston — a nine-week journey over more than 3,500 miles.

In a blog and on Facebook, C2C4Charlie is sharing the experiences in words and photos. Averaging nearly 70 miles a day — in all conditions, from sweltering 100-plus temperatures to the cold of snow-topped mountains — Cliff and Arleen talked most about the people — “the kindness of strangers,” they said.

Just the morning before, in Medina, a man had approached the group in a Dunkin’ Donuts and asked about their cause. When he learned about Charlie and raising money for the Epilepsy Foundation, “he pulled out a $100 bill,” Clif said.

The man said "use this for whatever you want to support your trip. For your organizations or food or whatever helps your ride."

“The Incredible kindness. This is what we have experienced over the thousands of miles we have traveled,” Clif said.

To learn more about C2C4Charlie and to donate, visit: https://c2c4charlie.org/