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Roseville man rides for a cause

Brent Fink wants to raise awareness for a disease that claimed the life of his daughter
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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It began as a form of therapy for Brent Fink in an admittedly Forest Gump moment — the walking, from one corner to the next corner, and then another.

He just kept walking.

Next thing Fink knew, he was at the mall. He eventually arrived back at his Roseville home, four hours later.

The walking turned to cycling, on the Beach Cruiser daughter Brittany used to ride. He listened to the music on Brittany’s iPod: country, rock, hip-hop.

Fink just kept riding.

He still rides today, and every day: 130 miles last week, 500 miles in March, and a planned 50 miles on April 21 in the Sea Otter Gran Fondo in Monterey.

Riding remains therapeutic for Brent Fink, but he rides for another cause now, too. Fink and son Austin will ride in the Charity of Choice portion of the Gran Fondo to raise awareness for Gastroparesis and Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction, which took Brittany’s life in January 2011 at the age of 20.

There is no cure for Gastroparesis, and the Finks want that to change.

“We’re raising money for awareness,” Brent Fink said Friday from a park high atop Rocklin before he and Austin departed on another preparatory 2½-hour ride. “We want a lot of the money to go to research, but we also kind of want some money (to go to) people that need to travel.”

Andrea Fink, Brent’s wife, traveled with their daughter for treatment. Brittany saw a specialist in San Francisco and had multiple surgeries.

“You’re sleeping in your car, or in a chair,” Brent Fink said. “We want people that are going through it — the patient — to have a family member there.”

It all started in Brittany’s freshman year in high school, when she was hit in the back of the head with a water polo ball. She started having seizures and, “It escalated from there,” Andrea said.

Through it all, Brittany remained at Woodcreek until her graduation.

“Those people are the best when it comes to helping you,” Andrea Fink said of Woodcreek. “We wouldn’t have made it without them.”

Brittany developed ulcers, one of which bled. She had emergency surgery and, in September 2010, a revised surgery because she couldn’t hold anything down, according to her mom.

“She went downhill from there,” said Andrea Fink who, along with Brent, has done considerable research on Gastroparesis.

They were stunned to learn Gastroparesis now afflicts 1 in 25 people in some way. During Brittany’s battle, the Finks became acquainted with other young people who are fighting the disease. And now, they want answers.

Brent Fink chose the Sea Otter in Monterey because Brittany loved the coast. Sports Chalet and Performance Bike Shop in Roseville have helped him prepare for the event.

After initially wanting to complete the ride in 3½ hours, Brent Fink now wants to finish in the top 10. Of course, he’ll have to deal with son Austin.

“I’m going to beat him,” Austin said. Brittany also is survived by twin brother Bradley.

Others are riding for various diseases and causes. Brent rides for therapy, Brittany, research and awareness.

“He’s putting his energy in the right place obviously,” Andrea Fink said. “He’s doing this for people that are grieving. They lost their children. This is the best thing to do.”

SEA OTTER GRAN FONDO

When: April 21 in Monterey

Charity of Choice: Teams are riding for various causes. Roseville’s Brent Fink is riding on a team that seeks to raise awareness and find a cure for Gastroparesis and Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction. Proceeds from the ride will be donated in honor of Brittany Fink, the late daughter of Brent and Andrea Fink and sister of Austin and Bradley Fink, for research and expenses for families during treatment of a loved one.

Donations can be made by mail to PlanetZ/Echelon, Inc., 107 Reed Ranch Road, Tiburon, Calif., 94920.

For information on Gastroparesis and Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction, visit www.g-pact.org.