This month, more than ten riders hit the Allegheny Passage Bike Trail in hopes of raising awareness and funds for the local American Red Cross in Westmoreland and Armstrong Counties. The event is known as 'Bike For Life' and is currently in its fifth year.
The event features cyclists who journey more than 300 miles, from West Newton, Pa. to Washington D.C., to benefit the local Red Cross chapter. This year, Bike For Life raised more than $35,000 for Red Cross programs and services.
Founder and five-year participant, Dave Mickley, shares his Bike For Life experience with the Red Cross.
2013 marked my fifth year of participation in Bike 4 Life and it was a milestone year in many ways. Our four previous journeys, full of incredible experiences, have helped us grow and progress to this point. Following are some of the highlights from my perspective as the team leader (or as I have become lovingly known as: “Master and Commander”).
We had twelve full-time bikers, ranging in age from 16 (Lucy Newman) to 70 (Rick Callen), start and finish the ride: our most yet.
We had a full-time support vehicle manned by one full-time truck support person (Joe Seibel) and one support person that crossed over between support from his bike and support from the truck (Mike Green).
Having a support truck that we could count on meant the riders only needed to carry with them essentials needed for a day on the trail (snacks, drinks, bike repair items and a first aid kit). Our overnight items would be ready for us upon arrival at the day's destination. This allowed us to travel lighter and focus more on the fun aspects of each day’s ride.
We had three riders that trained with us in the four months prior to the D.C. trip, each of whom raised money for the Red Cross but were not able to go on the five-day ride.
Reese Boucher is a 14-year-old who loves biking and follows in his parent’s foot steps when it comes to helping others. He knew he would not be able to participate in the D.C. ride due to an obligation to his school band camp, but trained with us anyway. His training included a one-day, 100-mile ride planned from Frostburg, Md. to West Newton, Pa. Reese used this ride as his fundraiser to help the Red Cross. The accompanying photo shows him during the ride. As you can see, it rained a bit that day.
Cindy Behanna learned about Bike 4 Life from a newspaper article after last year’s ride, and subsequently devoted several months of training and fundraising to prepare. Just weeks before our departure, her husband had a bicycle accident while the two of them were riding together. He suffered multiple fractures which would require significant rehabilitation. This ultimately left Cindy staying home with her husband, instead of biking to D.C. She plans hopefully to ride with us in 2014.
Rob Gallagher, who rode to D.C. with us last year, had been suffering from undiagnosed lower back pain for months, yet continued to train with us. Finally the pain got to be to so severe that he sought advanced medical care and is still receiving treatment. In spite of his medical condition, Rob assisted during the century training ride, raised considerable funds for the Red Cross and spent time with the rest of us on nights one and five of our D.C. trip to lend support. Rob also plans to join us next year.
This was the first year that we solicited corporate sponsorships, offering an “adventure ride”, jersey logo placement and other perks to corporate sponsors who donated $500 or more. This was a great success and helped us raise in excess of $35,000 this year. This is the most we have raised in any one year, bringing our collective total close to $100,000!
The daily events relative to the ride itself were fun, fantastic, and filled with ups and downs (literally and figuratively).
Thank you to all of you that have supported our efforts in various ways, including donations, encouragement, and taking the time to read about Bike 4 Life. We welcome you to come along with us again next year (vicariously or on your bike) when we hope to set new records and continue to further the mission of the American Red Cross.
On behalf of the rest of our 2013 team:
Paul & Mary Sleppy, Greg Banchiere, Robin & Joe Seibel,
Rick & Connie Callen, Marcia Cook, Geoff Joseph, Mike Green, Elise Etelamaki, and Larry & Lucy Newman.