In less than two years Kody Churma went from a healthy young man to one who couldn’t hold a fishing rod and couldn’t draw because he couldn’t hold a pencil.
Kody died of complications related to scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that attacks skin tissues and can damage internal organs.
He started before he died in 2018 at the age of 26 Scler Churma, a non-profit organization that aims to raise awareness and educate others about the disease.
After three years of annual events and working through the charity approval process, the group is preparing for their fourth annual fundraiser, which will take the form of a motorcycle ride through Alle Kiski Valley on July 31st.
“We usually do this on Kody’s birthday in November, but we’re moving to Florida and have asked several people about a motorcycle ride over the years,” said Kody’s mother, Laurie Churma, of Washington Township.
The first two fundraisers took place at the Shootin ‘Bull Tavern on Route 380, a popular spot for motorcyclists.
“You were so great to Kody and didn’t feel uncomfortable when his illness really started rolling,” Churma said. “We are forever grateful that you were so wonderful.”
The fundraising drives, including a virtual version during the 2020 pandemic, raised about $ 30,000. Churma said they are working with support groups to screen and identify candidates who they can provide articles that are easier to use for scleroderma sufferers.
“Because we’re a small group, we start with things like glasses, toothbrushes, smaller items that are easier for people with this disease to hold,” she said.
The Kickstands Up for Kody ride starts at 11 a.m. from Shootin ‘Bull and stops en route at Barefoot Bar & Grill in Leechburg, Cool Water Saloon in Apollo and Woodpeckers Pub & Grub in New Kensington.
Registration starts at 10 a.m. and costs $ 20 for a single driver or $ 25 for a driver and passenger.
The Shootin ‘Bull is located at 508 Route 380 in Washington Township, on the Murrysville border.
Further information or online registration can be found at SclerChurma.org.