Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Greg Crawford:Driven by Madness

I rode my bike this morning to work. I ride every day—a whopping 3 miles round-trip!
Dr. Greg Crawford, Dean of the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame, rode his bike this morning, too. He’s also been riding every day.
The difference between the two of us is that over the past couple weeks he’s been dealing with incredible winds in his face, high speed traffic rushing by, and he has had to traverse one of the nation’s major mountain chains.  And I suppose he’s not riding to an office. He’s riding to a cure.
Dr. Crawford is spending his summer vacation combining three of Notre Dame’s strongest attributes—research, service, and sports—to make a real difference in the world. He is riding across the United States on a bicycle to raise money and promote awareness for research to prevent and cure Niemann-Pick disease Type C (NP-C), a fatal disease found in children. He left Boston May 21, and will arrive in Pebble Beach, CA on June 22, to meet up with former ND Football Coach Ara Parseghian, who has lost three grandchildren to the disease, and who founded a foundation to support NP-C research.
If you read about NP-C you’ll find sadness. The disease is described as “always fatal,” it affects children almost exclusively, and there is no cure. Reading outlooks like these is overwhelming and makes me ask “Why is there so much suffering in the world?” The outlooks make Dr. Crawford ask something different: “How can I prevent this?”
Dr. Crawford has been blessed with an incredible mind, a giving heart, and a body equipped to handle the wear of long-distance biking. Many people with those gifts are content to be a solid researcher, spouse, and adventurer. Crawford is combining these three gifts to save lives. Many dream of a world without NP-C; Crawford is taking steps to make that dream a reality.
Dr. Crawford’s “Road to Discovery” is yet another demonstration of how a Champion in athletics can be a leader for real change in our world.  Anyone who has gone through any kind of grueling sports experience can identify with the sacrifice that Dr. Crawford is making. Although we may not be able to fathom the feeling of riding 160 miles in a single day, the immensity of his goal stirs up questions in us as to what kind of madness would drive him to take on this challenge. 
And my guess is that it is madness that is driving him. We live in a world that has seen people walk on the moon, dive to the depths of the ocean, and travel at the speed of sound. Yet parents still have to go to the doctor and learn that child has a disease, and they can do nothing to heal them.  Is that not madness? I’ll bet Dr. Crawford thinks so.

To follow Dr. Crawford's journey, or to learn about how to donate to his fundraising effort, check out his blog at

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