Spotlight: Riding for a cause
Spotlight: Riding for a cause
Riders from the Jim Thorpers Bicycle Team met in the parking garage of the Holiday Inn in center city Philadelphia bright and early on a Sunday morning.
They were about to pedal 65 miles to Atlantic City, New Jersey, as part of the Tour de Shore Children’s Foundation charity bike ride. But before that ride started they needed to do another.
For years the Tour has started at 20th and Walnut streets, traversing Philly before crossing over the Ben Franklin Bridge into New Jersey. For many riders, zipping through the streets of downtown Philly with no traffic was one of the highlights of the ride. This year the starting line was moved to Franklin Square at the foot of the Ben Franklin bridge.
One of the Jim Thorpers, former Philadelphia police officer Chip Burnett, had an idea. He arranged for an unofficial police escort from the hotel to the starting line with a detour around City Hall.
Just before sunrise, more than 80 Jim Thorpers mounted their bikes and flowed out of the parking garage behind a Philadelphia Police SUV with lights flashing for a cruise through the city.
Veteran rider Jack Krajcirik, doing his fifth Tour de Shore, was happy that Burnett was able to make the arrangements.
“I was disappointed when I learned that the starting point was changing and we would not be going through the square. This is my favorite part of the ride,” Krajcirik said. “Riding through this historical area of Philadelphia on a beautiful Sunday morning before the city is awake is surreal.”
The Jim Thorpers was the only team to show up at the starting line with a police escort. Once there, they met up with other team members and posed for a team photo.
At the starting line, around 135 Jim Thorpers blended into the crowd to combine for a record 2,600 overall registered riders in this year’s ride.
Around three hours later the first riders were crossing the finish line at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City. At around 10:20 a.m. the first Jim Thorpers, Alyssa Graber, Billy Gushue and Todd Truskey crossed the finish line.
Graber, in her third year doing the Tour, does it because it’s a great cause.
“I love to ride,” she said. “Nothing beats doing something you like that also benefits others.”
The ride raised $1,100,954 so far this year, with $69,228 of that being raised by the Jim Thorpers Team, the second-highest total of any team. Because the team exceeded $65,000, the Tour de Shore Children’s Foundation will make a donation of $10,000 to local children’s charities of the team’s choice.
The money the team received this year will push the team’s local charitable contributions to nearly $100,000. Some of the past recipients of the team’s donations include, Carbon County Special Olympics, the Carbon Lodge No. 242 F&A Masons’ safety day, Dylan and Gavin’s Rainbow Ministry and the Committee to Benefit the Children at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.
Ray Attewell of Jim Thorpe rode in his first Tour de Shore this year, and on Sunday was already looking to sign up for next year.
“All of the team members that I trained with for months built up how wonderful the event is. It exceeded their descriptions and my expectations. It was a phenomenal, exhilarating experience, from start to finish. One that I cannot wait to do again.” Attewell said.
As an added bonus, Attewell’s children were all at the finish line cheering him on.
“I knew in advance that my daughter Deborah, 32, is driving up from Newport News, Virginia, to cheer me on,” Attewell said. “The surprises were Tim, 30, flying in from Los Angeles; and Laura, 26, flying in from work from London, England.”
The Jim Thorpers’ team captain Mike Dugan was pleased with the day for the most part.
“We had an excellent day and our biggest turnout thus far as a team,” Dugan said. “The only negative was that one of our riders, Mike Yeastedt, was injured in a crash and we all wish him a speedy recovery.”