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05/20/07 2:18 PM ET

Riding for a good cause

Red Sox wives help raise funds and awareness for ALS

WAYLAND, Mass. -- Before Shonda Schilling and Dawn Timlin could set out on a 50-mile bike ride for ALS research on Sunday morning, the two had to settle a simple case of mistaken identity.

Timlin was assigned No. 38, while Schilling had the No. 36 on her bicycle.

"How funny is this?" quipped Timlin. "Do you want to switch?"

"No, you keep it," Schilling answered. "I'll be OK with this."

And so with that problem resolved, the two Red Sox wives helped kick off the 13th annual "Positive Spin for ALS" bike ride in Wayland.

Also taking part in the 25-mile ride were Kelli Pedroia and Ashley Papelbon, wives of Dustin and Jonathan, respectively.

"Obviously, Shonda getting involved with the ALS chapter from the very beginning -- when [Curt and Shonda Schilling] got here [in 2004] -- pulled Mike and I right in, which has been a blessing for everyone involved," Dawn Timlin said. "And it seems like she's gotten quite a few of the girls involved in this one. It's nice. You don't have to go 50 miles, you can go 25 to raise money and awareness for ALS that is so dear to our hearts. I think Shonda's done a fabulous job dragging in the young girls. I'm anxious to see how they do today."

Shonda Schilling not only brought two new wives into the race this year, she also added two members of her own family.

"My son [Gehrig] and daughter [Gabriella] are finally old enough to ride the bikes, so they're riding with my brother," Shonda said, "and my mom and my sister-in-law are coming in from New Hampshire, and then we have five or six other [players'] wives who are doing it this year."

As bikers began to file in at 8 a.m. ET, they prepped themselves for a wet track. As a veteran of the race, Schilling said the rain wasn't about to dampen her enthusiasm for the event.

"I did it in Philadelphia, and now I'm doing it here with a much nicer bike," she said. "This is the fourth year I've been doing this and every year it's been different. One year it's really hot, one year it's really cold, so this is our rainy year."

Whether it's veteran riders Timlin and Schilling or rookies Pedroia and Papelbon, Massachusetts ALS Chapter President/CEO Rick Arrowood said the association with the Red Sox has been invaluable. Arrowood says when Curt Schilling joined the Red Sox in '04, the relationship grew even stronger.

"With that came a call from the Red Sox to ask, 'What can we do to support your organization?' That's been absolutely, absolutely the major impact," Arrowood said. "To have touch with the Red Sox, [to] work with [Red Sox Foundation executive director] Meg Vaillancourt, just that exposure."

"It actually gives them a reason to go out and gives them hope and makes them not feel alone," Schilling added. "I know every fifth day, ALS patients know that my husband's pitching for them, and we can't do it alone. Me and all those other 200 bikers out there today, telling those ALS patients at the end [of the bike route] that we care, and we're here to make sure we make a difference."

Some 200 riders turned out for Sunday's fund-raising ride. Approximately 40, including Timlin and Schilling, made the 50-mile trek, while 70 more took a 25-mile journey. The remaining participants completed a 10-mile course, while about 30 children completed a kids' course.

"It's random," Schilling said. "It's just bad luck if you get ALS. Today is about raising money and raising awareness, so that the people who have ALS can live comfortably and get those services that might take them longer to get through the health-care system."

"I think it's great in that it's grown tremendously over the years," Arrowood said. "We've been able to attract more corporate sponsors and radio sponsors.

"So just having the Dawn factor and the Shonda factor and the other Red Sox wives just adds that much more credibility to the event, and hopefully causes people and inspires people to come out here raise some money and have some fun riding."

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.