EMMETSBURG, Iowa — Riding in RAGBRAI this year is more than a homecoming for San Diego resident and Cedar Rapids native Eric Jensen and his wife, Taylor, and three-year-old son, River.
River and Taylor were diagnosed with myotonic dystrophy shortly after River was born. It’s a form of muscular dystrophy that weakens muscles in the legs, hands, neck and face over time, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. However, the severity can vary widely among those who have it, even close relatives.
The family decided to ride in RAGBRAI 42 as a way to raise awareness and money for the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation, which works to help those with symptoms and guide research. They named their journey River’s Ride, fitting for an event that goes from river to river.
“We’re all about finding a cure and helping our little boy,” Taylor said.
River sits in a seat on the back of Eric’s bike as father shows son the state where he grew up. It’s also the state that could make progress on finding a cure.
“The University of Iowa this fall is going to be starting up a program specializing in myotonic dystrophy,” Eric said.
Taylor follows the pair in the family’s van, picking up River after the first 10 or 15 miles.
“He’s doing well. He has a little bit of muscle weakness right now and we’re trying to manage that with the doctor’s help,” Eric said.
There’s currently no cure or specific treatment for myotonic dystrophy, which means River’s Ride will continue long after reaching the Mississippi.