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Long bike ride calls attention to epilepsy

MANATEE — There’s more than one way to cut through the clutter to get a message across.

Glenn Fenster of Aventura chooses to pedal a bicycle 7,000 miles to call attention to epilepsy.

Wednesday the 48-year-old flashed along University Parkway to U.S. 301 and through the heart of Bradenton and Palmetto on a 100-mile route intended to put him in Spring Hill by night fall.

The journey ultimately will take him to Canada and Chicago and back to his home near Fort Lauderdale this summer.

Fenster came into contact with another noted cyclist, Nathan Benderson, who bikes 75 to 100 miles a week.

Benderson, patriarch of the shopping center development company headquartered in University Park, is 92.

“It’s a good cause,” Benderson said, when asked about Fenster.

Benderson put Fenster up for the night in the plush Comfort Suites hotel near the intersection of Interstate 75 and University Parkway.

“Wherever we have a hotel, it’s our pleasure to do that,” Benderson said.

Fenster was inspired to try to get the word out about epilepsy by his 15-year-old son, Nyle, who has the neurological disorder.

Epilepsy produces brief disturbances in the normal electrical functions of the brain, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. The disturbances may affect a person’s consciousness, bodily movements or sensations for a short time, according to the foundation.

“This trip pales in comparison to the courage my son and others show every day of their lives,” Fenster said.

He estimates he has put 100,000 miles on his bicycles since he last drove a car in 2002. He made similar long rides across the country in the name of epilepsy in 2006 and 2007.

“The purpose of the ride is to raise awareness and to inspire and empower families to seek the knowledge available to them and ultimately to find a cure,” Fenster said.

In about seven out of 10 people with epilepsy, no cause can be found for the disorder, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.

Fenster spreads his message of epilepsy awareness by seeking out reporters, talking to school groups, and talking to public officials. He has already talked to the mayor of Naples and hopes to talk to Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp later this week.

To follow Fenster on his trip, visit www.destinymaker.org.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 708-7916.

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