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Living Well with ALS: Rhonda Baumann

Rhonda Baumann is a long-time participant of the ALS Ride. She gathers her community annually for the Beers and Gears ALS Ride in July.

Rhonda resides with her husband in Grants Pass, OR. In the aftermath of her PLS diagnosis in 2013, and subsequent ALS diagnosis in 2022, she lives by a clear mantra: “Rethink, Retool, Relearn.” 

Adapting to ALS

Adapting and reforming through challenges isn’t new to Rhonda. She’s a former marathoner who enjoyed hiking, biking, snow skiing, and water skiing, not to mention a 20-plus-year career in education as a counselor and physical education teacher. 

Although she admits it’s an ongoing process to let go of pride and choose to accept help, she discovers infinite possibility in the ability to give and receive freely, saying, “When you let people help you, it opens up a whole new world.”

Still putting her mantra to use, Rhonda “retools” regularly. She stays active with daily cycling trips around the neighborhood on her e-trike, which she switched to from a two-wheel bike several years ago after realizing, “When I was on my trike, it felt like I didn’t have ALS.” Her dog, Coy, enthusiastically joins her on these rides. “The wind in my hair… just being outside” are a couple of the reasons Rhonda keeps cycling. 

Finding ALS Support

Rhonda and her family collaborate often with Laura Geilenfeldt, the Care Services Coordinator for Southern Oregon, and receive support for ALS-related expenses through our ALS Financial Assistance Program. ALS support groups are another bedrock for Rhonda: “It’s a safe place of common understanding, unlimited patience, grace, and compassion. It’s the one place where I don’t have to explain my disease … they get it!” 

At the 2024 Beers and Gears ALS Ride – her fifth annual Ride event so far – Rhonda is inviting neighbors to join her team, and her sister plans to fly in from Colorado to join her in this important awareness-building cause. Rhonda uses headsets with microphones (pictured) to stay connected with cycling partners, helping offset her ALS-related speaking difficulties.

As Rhonda shared, “Failure is not having a goal.”

About the Beers and Gears ALS Ride

Each year in July, we set our intentions to raise awareness of ALS and pedal toward an end to the disease. Beers and Gears is a cycling and fundraising event in Mt. Angel, Oregon with a variety of course difficulties that range from 10 to 77 miles. Participants enjoy picturesque landscapes, food, live music, and craft beers. Cyclists must meet a fundraising minimum to participate, and funds raised directly support care services for people living with ALS.

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