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May 26. 2012 12:05AM

Three city men will bike from Boston to San Francisco


From left, Keating Tufts, David Casinghino and Elias McQuade, all from Manchester, will start a cross-country bike ride today. The 4,100-mile journey will raise money and awareness for Graves disease research. McQuade’s sister, Molly, 26, has been diagnosed with the disease. (Paul Feely/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — Like many college grads, Elias McQuade and Keating Tufts want to travel before settling into careers. It’s how the two Manchester men are taking that journey that sets them apart from their peers — on bicycles, going coast to coast for a special cause.

Today McQuade, Tufts, and their college friend Dave Britton of Ashland, Mass., will leave from Boston on a 4,100-mile cross-country bike trip that will (if all goes as planned) end July 31 in San Francisco. By doing so, they hope to raise $12,000 for the Graves Disease and Thyroid Foundation.

“We’re very excited to get this trip started,” said McQuade, who last weekend graduated from Bryant University with a degree in international business. “It will be a challenge, but it’s also a great cause.”

The trio’s ride is the second annual such trek, called the “Greater Than Graves’” (GTG) project. McQuade, Tufts and Britton, along with Manchester’s David Casinghino driving a support van donated by Merchants Auto, are leading this year’s GTG challenge. McQuade has a personal connection to the project. His sister Molly, 26, has been diagnosed with the disease.

“I drew the inspiration for the idea from my sister, who has had to deal with the challenges of Graves Disease,” he explained. “I decided on a cross-country bike ride because I feel that the ride would challenge me physically and mentally and could give me insight into the daily problems that face those who have diseases that affect their lives. When I found out that there was already a bike ride for Graves just last year, I contacted the organizer and asked if I could be a part of it this year. A trip like this is something I’ve wanted to do, and this seemed like a good reason to actually do it.”

The inaugural GTG ride — a 3,200-mile trek from Anchorage, Alaska, to San Francisco, Calif. — was organized in 2011 by Michaela Cui. Cui was diagnosed with Graves disease while studying aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Graves disease is caused by a defect in the immune system in which antibodies attack the thyroid, often causing hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, fatigue, insomnia and heat intolerance. The disease can wreak havoc on a patient’s physical and emotional well-being, especially if the condition is not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. Complications can include heart failure, osteoporosis, severe emotional disorders and thyroid storm, which can be fatal.

The Graves Disease and Thyroid Foundation provides educational programming and support to patients with Graves disease and other thyroid disorders.

McQuade’s family is well-known in the Queen City business community. His grandfather, William McQuade, operated McQuade’s Clothing Store on Elm Street in Manchester, while his mother’s family ran Hamel Auto Body on Candia Road.

Tufts is a junior at Southern New Hampshire University studying organizational leadership. In a blog posting Tufts writes, “This is an exciting time in life for my friends and I. After this semester most of my friends will have graduated and it will be time for their new journey’s to begin. Many of them will be settling into the workforce, however, our journey starts off a bit different. Dave, Elias and I along with many other people in a ride across the country will have the chance to reach out to communities, and make an impact for the people who suffer from the disease.”

McQuade, a 2008 Manchester Central grad, said his team trains by bike riding 30 miles a day, with one 70-mile trek each weekend. They hope to average about 70 miles a day on their cross country trek, with planned stops in Niagara Falls, Chicago, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park and Nevada, among others.

“We’ll be tracking the weather, watching for heat,” said McQuade. “If it looks like we’ll encounter extreme heat, we’ll alter our schedule and travel early in the day, then rest once it gets too hot.”

McQuade said his team would like to thank sponsors like Blue Steel Cyclery and Ken Jones, and are actively seeking donations. Those interested in donating can do so through the team’s website, www.greaterthangraves.com. The team has also set up a blog and a Twitter account there, and visitors to the site can track their progress on the ride in real time.


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