While most teachers would be happy for an apple on their desk, an English teacher at Floral Park Memorial (FPM) High School received a much greater gift from one of his former students on Nov. 6 at Adelphi University’s Woodruff Hall with the Ride For Ethan Cyclethon.
The Ride For Ethan Cyclethon was organized by Dustin Demmer’s former student, Argie Pagiavlas as a way to raise money and awareness for Demmer’s son, Ethan, who was diagnosed with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy right before Thanksgiving of 2013.
The fundraising cycle class sponsored by C.A.L.I.B.E.R raised over $250 for the Demmers family while raising awareness for the disease and providing a great work out for its participants.
“I had seen Mr. Demmer’s family on the news for fundraising events that were being held such as the FPM dodge ball tournament and the volleyball game in Long Beach,” said Pagiavlas. “It was so inspiring to see past FPM alumni raising awareness and fundraising through Ride For Ethan out west. As the community service director for CALIBER I really wanted to plan something special for the Demmers family. The idea stemmed from the spin on ‘Ride For Ethan’ and creating a cyclethon played on that name.”
After Demmers started a Facebook page and meetethan.com to share Ethan’s story, two FPM alumni, J.R. Alonzo and Kyle Vidasolo felt compelled to do something for Ethan after they heard his story, according to Demmers.
“They began training and preparing for their ride,” explained Demmers. “J.R. contacted D’Amico at FPM, who helped get them get to the Grand Canyon and bring word of their to all of us at FPM. It just blew up after that.”
A long with the whole Demmers family, Pagiavlas and Alonzo, dozens of Adelphi students and members of the community also came out to support the cause and the rides for Ethan keep on coming.
“It made me feel proud to be from a town that cares so much about its residents and from a school that just as equally supports its teacher,” said Pagiavlas of the events for Ethan.
“I wish I had the proper words to express my gratitude and awe at the way this community just scooped up this cause,” added Demmers. “They have done so much for us, so much that no one single person knows everything that has been happening. People have sent me thoughts and prayers and support for Ethan in innumerable public and private ways.”
For other families dealing with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, Demmers encourages families to share ideas, stories and struggles. Although he realizes all families are different, Demmers believe that speaking to other families going through the same situation is most helpful.
Members of the community still looking to help Ethan’s cause can visit www.meetethan.com to keep up with the latest events. The next event for Ethan is one organized, by Demmers himself.
For information, visit the Facebook event page, “TKA’s Parent Project for Muscular Dystrophy PPMD Benefit,” and keep up with www.meetethan.com for other events to help put an end to muscular dystrophy.