The Bannons also bicycle the Tri-State Trek in honor of their brother, Chuck, who died of ALS in 2009

By William K. ALCORN


Breen O. Bannon and his sister, Lisa Bannon Steinmetz, leaders and founders of Crush ALS/Team Bannon, received encouraging news as they prepare for the team’s ninth annual 270-mile Tri-State Trek, the bicycle ride with the ultimate goal of finding a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Last month, the Federal Drug Administration approved the first new drug for ALS treatment in more than 20 years.

“We’re getting there,” said Breen. “It’s a Japanese drug. It is a step forward. It’s the second drug approved by the FDA, but the first one doesn’t work.”

The Bannons – Breen of Youngstown and Lisa, who grew up here but lives in Glen Ridge, N.J. – ride in memory of their brother, Chuck Bannon, who died in 2009 of ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and to raise money for research in the hope of finding a cure for the fatal disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

“Its hopeful,” Breen said of the newly approved drug, “but the verdict is still out. We certainly are hopeful it will prolong life and the quality of life for ALS sufferers.”

There is a saying among Tri-State Trek riders.

“ALS isn’t untreatable ... ALS research is just underfunded,” said Breen, citing the progress made in treating other diseases.

Raising money is what Crush ALS/Team Bannon, this year with 14 members from across the United States ranging in age from 40 to 60, has been very successful at.

“Because of the generosity of our supporters, Crush ALS/Team Bannon ridden nearly 2,500 miles and has raised more than $600,000 over the past eight years, and has been the top fundraiser for the Tri-State Trek the last four years. Quite an accomplishment for our small grass-roots effort,” said Breen, vice president for commercial lending at Farmers National Bank’s Boardman office.

Lisa is deputy editor of arts and culture for the Wall Street Journal. Both are graduates of Cardinal Mooney High School.

After the death of their brother, the Bannon family vowed to help find a cure for ALS by raising money for research.

“It is also a good way to remember Chuck and to help other people who have lost a loved one to ALS,” Breen said.

As the three-day, 270-mile ride from Boston College through New York to Greenwich, Conn., on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, nears, Breen and the other riders are getting in condition and hoping for comfortable dry riding weather with temperatures in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

They are also hoping Crush ALS/Team Bannon supporters in the Youngstown area and around the country will again donate to find a cure.

All the money raised benefits the Boston-based ALS Therapy Development Institute, a nonprofit research lab for ALS ( that is 100 percent focused on ALS research.

People who wish to donate can do so by clicking on http:/; or mail a check made payable to Tri-State Trek to Breen Bannon, 3478 Bentwillow Lane, Youngstown, OH 44511.

“I am appreciative and humbled by your generosity. Never give up,” Breen said to Crush ALS/Team Bannon.

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