May 31, 2011
UI Writers' Workshop alumnus Clute cycles 800 miles to 75th reunion to fight ALS
Alumni and former faculty of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop are traveling from all directions and from great distances to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the famous and influential program June 9-12. But 1992 graduate, Mitchell Clute is likely the only one arriving by bicycle -- from 800 miles away.
Clute is a recreational cyclist, but the May 27-June 9 journey with his family from Fort Collins, Colo., to Iowa City is not just for fun and adventure. It's called "Monte's Ride to Defeat ALS," and the goal is to raise money for research into Lou Gehrig's Disease, in honor of his father, Monte Clute, who died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in 1995. ALS is caused by progressive degeneration of the motor neurons, resulting in paralysis and eventual death.
Clute wrote for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the ALS Association, "Our journey is a fundraiser for The ALS Association, as well as a celebration of my father's spirit of adventure and joyous attitude toward life. To help those living with ALS, our goal is to raise $20,000."
The Monte's Ride party for the full distance -- covering an average of 60 miles per day -- consists of Clute, his oldest son, Kieran, and his wife, Catherine Gregory. They started training in February, including a spring-break jaunt to Moab, Utah. On the first day, May 27, they were joined on the "Kick-Off Ride" by more than 30 Colorado cyclists -- including his 71-year-old mother, Bonny -- into the Pawnee National Grassland.
Iowa cyclists are invited to join the last leg of the ride on June 9, from Washington or Kalona (of course, weather could affect the schedule). Look for details at http://www.montesride.org, where Clute and Gregory are blogging and posting photos throughout the journey. The site includes links, video of news coverage and the opportunity to make a donation online.
Monte's ride retraces much of a family trip Clute took with his free-spirit father in 1979 -- at the age of 13, with no preparatory training -- from Colorado to visit his grandparents in Michigan. "We had never done a bike tour before, but in June we hit the road, following the route my father had planned. It took a month, but we made it."
That entourage included his nine-year-old brother, who made it all the way to Lincoln, NE, before giving out.
"We're doing about two-thirds of that route on this trip," Clute explains. "No grandparents are left in Michigan, but the Writers' Workshop anniversary celebration seemed like a great destination. I actually learned of my dad's ALS diagnosis on my last night in Iowa City, in May of 1992, as I was packing up the U-Haul to return to Colorado."
Clute is now a producer and editor for multimedia publisher Sounds True in Fort Collins and managing editor of New Hope Natural Media. Gregory is a certified practitioner of the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Massage.
Learn about the history of the Writers' Workshop and public events during the 75th-anniversary reunion at http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2011/may/052711reunion_events.html. The Iowa Writers' Workshop is a unit in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Graduate College.
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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500