Aroostook County The wheels are in motion, or at least they will be on May 30 at Presque Isle Middle School, as yet another school joins the countywide effort to raise money for the County Dialysis Center in Presque Isle.

The Power to the Pedal fundraising event will take place on May 29 with the main site for the event at the County Physical Therapy facility on North Street in Presque Isle. There participants will ride on stationary bikes in shifts over a 12-hour time period.

TAMC

Organizers have set a goal of raising $30,000 to purchase two hemodialysis machines that provide life-sustaining treatment for patients at County Dialysis. The machines will complement the construction of an updated facility for the center, which will be located inside the unoccupied section of the former Smythe’s IGA, adjacent to its current location at North Street Healthcare in Presque Isle.

Just about a week after a teacher at Fort Kent’s Valley Rivers Middle School announced a coinciding Bike-a-thon event, the proceeds of which will also benefit County Dialysis, Brian Cronin, a physical education instructor at Presque Isle Middle School, has stepped up to host a similar activity at his school the day following TAMC’s Power to the Pedal, Saturday, May 30, at the middle school and in the vicinity around the school.

“I first heard about the Power to the Pedal event through my son-in-law, Brian Morrison, who is an athletic trainer at County Physical Therapy and an event coordinator for the unique fundraiser.  I also spoke about the project with Virginia Joles and Pam Frank who are associated with TAMC and the County Dialysis Center and are also part of the event coordinating team,” said Cronin.

Once he heard about the event, he felt compelled to help in any way possible, especially since he has personally benefited from the services of County Dialysis. In 1989, Cronin saw a nephrologist/kidney specialist, and doctors found that he was suffering from kidney failure.

“I would visit [County Dialysis] for tests and updates as to the progress of my kidney failure. A specialist would visit The County monthly. My levels eventually became worse, and I needed a kidney transplant in 2000,” said Cronin.

Cronin’s oldest brother, Patrick, from Massachusetts, donated the kidney in a selfless act that saved his brother’s life. Cronin had his transplant at New England Medical Center, now Tufts Medical Center. To this day, Cronin visits County Dialysis on a regular basis for updates and tests. Both he and his brother are doing well.

"I decided to plan this event because I was asked if I would be able to help out somehow due to my connection to the County Dialysis Center in the past. I felt honored and obligated because of the excellent service I had received at County Dialysis over the years. I wanted to help out any way possible so that others would be able to benefit as I did. I am very blessed and fortunate to have received the service that County Dialysis provides,” said Cronin.

The Bike-a-thon will be open to students, parents and staff at Presque Isle Middle School – grades six, seven and eight. Cronin has received the support of TAMC, along with the administration and students at Presque Isle Middle School. PIMS Principal Anne Blanchard, PIMS Social Worker and Civil Rights Team advisor Allison Reed, and Casey Johnson, who is a sixth grade core teacher as well as student council advisor at PIMS, are all playing a crucial role in organizing the event. The next step is to enlist the students’ help to make the event a success.

Blanchard shared her enthusiasm for this learning experience for students.  “I am so pleased that our students will have an opportunity to participate in this important life-saving project.  As middle level educators, we are always looking for ways to connect learning to real life. Not only will our students learn about the health and medical components of this initiative, they will be contributing to its success.  This is learning through community service—very powerful!”

“Hopefully the students will be very receptive,” says Cronin. “My role here is two-fold. I am assisting in helping with the Power to the Pedal event by bringing my physical education students over to County Physical Therapy to ride the stationary bikes to raise money from 8 to 11 a.m. on May 29, and I am helping to organize the Bike-a-thon for County Dialysis to help raise money for two hemodialysis machines that provide life sustaining treatment for patients in northern Maine who are living with kidney failure.”

Pamela Frank, RN, manager of County Dialysis, says she is blown away by the outpouring of support from different areas of Aroostook County.

“First Fort Kent, and now Presque Isle,” she said. “It just goes to show how many lives County Dialysis touches across our broad region, and what an important service County Dialysis provides in our rural communities. I’m touched beyond words at the willingness of people to give their time to help us raise these very necessary funds.”

Because County Dialysis is the only treatment center of its kind north of the Bangor region, it helps to keep Aroostook County patients from having to make lengthy trips to receive their dialysis treatments up to three times per week. Without it, many families would endure financial hardships to receive their treatment or, worse, would avoid them altogether.

“It is important to support this event to bring awareness to patients that suffer from kidney failure and the process they have to go through while on dialysis.  It is the right thing to do,” said Cronin.

Anyone interested in supporting either of these events can pledge money towards Power to the Pedal by logging onto www.powertothepedal.org, or pledging per mile for the Bike-a-thon through Presque Isle Middle School, TAMC, County Dialysis Center, or calling Brian Cronin directly at (207)764-4474 for more information.

Cronin says this opportunity is a good time to reflect on his past medical history with County Dialysis and to show his appreciation for all they have provided him.

“I want to thank everyone who is associated with County Dialysis Center and TAMC, and who, over the years, have assisted me in the process of receiving a kidney transplant and being able to live a better quality of life. I am very thankful for their support and am grateful for the opportunity to assist others in becoming aware of renal failure and the process that dialysis patients have to endure. Hopefully, through my position as both a physical educator and a transplant recipient, it will help get the word out and help benefit this very important cause,” said Cronin.

The County Dialysis Center treats approximately 45 patients, three times each week.  In 2014, patients received 5,789 treatments at the center, which has been in constant operation for nearly two decades.

** This information was sent to us in a Press Release. Feel free to email us yours at newspi@townsquaremedia.com.