The college student plans to pedal 100 miles a day to raise $50,000 for Special Olympics.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A Youngstown man plans an ambitious 3,700-mile summer bicycle tour across the United States, providing a physical and mental challenge for him and a fund-raising challenge for his chosen charity.
Todd Sardich, 22, a son of Walter and Barbara Sardich of Canfield Road, will be trying to raise $50,000 for Special Olympics Ohio as he pedals an average of 100 miles a day. He and two other young men will cycle through 14 states from Heceta Beach, Ore., to Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Special Olympics serves 1.2 million athletes with mental and/or disabilities a year. Sardich said his mother's godson has Down syndrome, and he chose to ride for Special Olympics because he wanted to help people who are mentally retarded.
Sardich is a graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School and is working toward a degree in finance at John Carroll University. He played football at both schools and plans to graduate from John Carroll this fall.
"I just thought it would be a great journey to see the country. I've never really been out west," Sardich said.
In the plans: Having secured multiple corporate and institutional sponsors, the three cyclists plan to start their ride July 22 and finish Sept. 2, passing through Cleveland and Youngstown in late August. With 40 scheduled cycling days and a mere five rest days, they plan to camp most nights en route and occasionally use hotels.
Sardich will be cycling with his college roommate, Bryan Fialkowski, 22, with whom he has been training for the ride, and Kermit Cook, 23, a recent Dartmouth College graduate. Fialkowski and Cook will raise money for an endowment fund at their alma mater, Linsly High School in Wheeling, W.Va.
Kermit's father, Russell, will drive their support van.
"We just figured if we were going to do something 3,700 miles long, we might as well do it for a purpose other than ourselves," said Sardich, who has already sent letters seeking donations from individuals and businesses in the Cleveland and Youngstown areas and raised money on campus.
The group will be making the trip at an accelerated pace because Sardich and Fialkowski will attend a summer school session before the ride; Sardich must resume classes in the fall, and Fialkowski and Cook need to get jobs soon.
The three will be cycling from west to east in the hope that prevailing winds from the west will push them along, and they'll use a northern route in the hope of experiencing cooler weather and to position themselves to come though Cleveland and Youngstown.
Ready for challenge: Based on what cross-country cyclists have told him, Sardich predicted the Appalachian Mountains will be the biggest challenge, presenting the steepest climbs of the ride under hot and humid conditions. In anticipation of reducing their daily mileage during the tough Appalachian climb, the three may increase their daily mileage on the Great Plains, Sardich said.
"Physically, I know we can do this. Mentally, I think it's going to be hard to get up every morning at 7 a.m. and sit on the seat of a bicycle for eight hours," Sardich said. "But as long as we keep in the front of our minds that what we're doing has a purpose, I think we're going to get through it just fine," he said.
Sardich's training has included the use of a treadmill and a stationary bike, jogging, racquetball and basketball. In recent weeks, he and Fialkowski have been cycling 30 miles a day on four weekdays, then they usually ride 55 to 60 miles each Saturday and Sunday. They ride hilly terrain three days a week.
"It's like an obsession. We can't wait to get out of class when it's a great day and go ride," Sardich said.
XFor more information, write to: Todd Sardich, P.O. Box 21345, Cleveland, Ohio 44121.