INDEPENDENCE — The National Psoriasis Foundation is on a mission to raise awareness about psoriatic disease — and it’s ready to put rubber to the road to do it.
Psoriatic disease is an immune-mediated disease that causes raised, red, scaley patches to appear on the skin and affects an estimated 125 million people around the world, according to the NPF.
A little more than three years ago, the NPF was looking for ways to spread awareness and raise money toward treating psoriasis. Cycling quickly stood out.
“One (reason) is it’s such a great form of exercise and developing overall good health,” NPF employee Brian Willms said. “It can also be a very good form of exercise for those with psoriatic disease, especially psoriatic arthritis since it works to strengthen the joints without stressing them. Finally, bicyclists are a demographic that tend to be very giving and enthusiastic about the things they do. This allows us to connect with a community to help further our mission while creating awareness of psoriatic disease.”
Now, the NPF is ready to bring its mission to Polk County.
Team NPF Cycle begins and ends at Riverview Park in Independence on Sunday.
There are four different courses: 8, 26 and 62 miles, and a 1-mile family loop.
Registration fee is $25 and there is a $150 fundraising minimum (children 12 and younger are not subject to the minimum).
“We will have rest stops every 10 to 14 miles as opposed to every 18 to 20 miles,” Willms said. “We’ll have plenty of bike mechanics and bike marshals to help ensure riders are safe and supported if they have an issue along the way. Follow that up with our great party after they ride that includes two drink tickets (beer and/or wine for adults), lunch and a massage, and our ride becomes different than others.”
The NPF has been doing cycling events for more than three years across the country.
This will be the first Team NPF Cycle event in the Willamette Valley. The valley’s location and access to scenic routes — as well as an embracing of cycling culture — made it an attractive spot for the NPF.
“We love the community,” Willms said. “We’ve found Polk County offers some beautiful, scenic and safe areas for people of all levels to ride their bikes. We know communities like Independence, Monmouth and Dallas are interested in promoting cycling opportunities … and we have found the communities to be very welcoming and helpful.”
For those who can’t ride but wants to take part, the event offers other ways to get involved.
“We welcome virtual riders for those who want to participate but have challenges being able to bike,” Willms said. “It also takes a lot of volunteers to put on a good, supported ride. We have various needs and shifts for volunteers.”
Interested volunteers can contact Erin Faulhaber, 503-369-5717.
Willms said he believes the Team NPF Cycle event will grow and draw in people from across the country in future years — and is excited to make Riverview Park its home for the forseeable future.
But the rides are just part of the day’s events. Willms said this is truly an event everyone can enjoy.
“We’ll have live music from Homebrew, beer from Rogue Ales, wine from Airlie Winery and lunch from Three Legged Dog,” Willms said. “We’ll also have a massage booth for riders, a kids zone with face painting and balloon artist and other exhibitors. We view this as a family event that is built around the wellness of cycling and helping those with psoriatic disease.”