It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Tri-State Trek to the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI). It’s one of our most popular fundraising events and a major source of funding for our mission to find effective treatments for ALS. However, it’s also just as important for our supporters, friends, and family from throughout the ALS community as a time to gather and share in a weekend of both fun and remembrance.

Although we’ve had to make the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Tri-State Trek due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re offering both longtime supporters and people new to the Trek family the opportunity to participate in a new, socially-distant event we’re calling the My-State Trek. My-State Trek participants are invited to ride indoors on their own stationary bike or indoor bike trainer, or ride outdoors while practicing social distancing and virtually tracking their miles and raising money to support ALS research. This year runners, walkers, swimmers, and really anyone who wants to participate, will have an opportunity to make mileage and fundraising commitments to help the fight to end ALS.

As we prepare for our socially distant My-State Trek ride, we’re talking to some team captains is about how they’re approaching the virtual Trek. Today we’re joined by Rinaldo Dorman, a longtime Tri-State Trek veteran and captain of Team America.

First off, can you tell us a little about how you got involved with Tri-State Trek?

Rinaldo Dorman: This will be my 10th year involved with the Trek. I got started because of my friend Chuck McNamee. He was the original captain of Team America. He started the team because his friend, and now my friend, Steve Saling had been diagnosed with ALS. He and his friend Gabe Cohen wanted to do something about it, and they stumbled upon the Tri-State Trek. I think at that point it would have been around 2007, one of the first five years or so that the trek was around.

I actually met Chuck in business school at Northeastern University. After a few years of hearing him give the pitch about why I should do the Trek, I figured I was looking for an activity to get in better shape, so I would try it. I ended up buying a bike and joining the team. 2010 was my first year riding. It was a good physical challenge and it was an interesting group of people to be involved with. I ended up liking the sense of the community. That kept me coming back, and my wife Sara ended up getting involved. My second year I ended up doing the lunch service as well. The two of us use it as something we can do together for a sense of community and to volunteer.

What are your plans now for the My-State Trek?

RD: I’m certainly staying connected to my donor base. I have a few people that fortunately have been pretty generous year after year.

I’m trying to use the flexibility of this year as a means to broach the idea of the Trek with other folks. I know a lot of people who do mountain biking, for example, and I’m thinking about using that as a way to get people involved and get donations. This year, it doesn't even have to be bike riding. It can be anything.

What do you think it is that makes the Trek so special, and how are you hoping to carry that over into the remote version?

RD: You know, I think it's having a sense of being able to make a difference. We really get to feel like we're influencing people's lives for the better. You can sign up for things that are maybe bigger charities that maybe raise more money, but this really feels much more immediate in a very different way. There is such an unmet need for ALS.

I certainly am not a scientist. I'm not a technical person. I can't I can't solve the disease. But I can I can help bring awareness. I can help show support for the community. I can help raise money. And those are things that I can continue to do. Whether the physical Trek happens or not, we can still raise that money. I can help meet those goals that help contribute to the operations of the of ALS TDI.

What would you say to someone who’s interested in doing the My-State Trek this year but unsure how to participate?

RD: I think for people who haven't done the Trek before, it's a great way to ease into it. You don't have to feel like it's an all or nothing commitment. One of the challenges I have as a team captain is talking to folks who have done it once or twice, but then they don't come back because it's so much. There's a lot of options that ALS TDI has built into the My-State Trek. This really provides a way to do something that fits your needs a little bit better. You can make a commitment to do anything at all.

If someone wants to be involved in the Trek they can join Team America, especially if you're a solo rider and you want to you want to join a group. There's always a place with us. I think a lot of folks who don't have homes, if you will, otherwise on a team, they join us. And that's something we can offer.

For more information about how to sign up for the My-State Trek, click here. You can find more information about Rinaldo and Team America on their fundraising page.