By SARAH FOOR
Most days, Poland cyclist Chuck Campbell can be found pedaling through the village or following the Mill Creek bikeway with friends.
However, on May 3, Campbell began “the ride” of his life.
That’s when he started a 1,000-mile trek to Pensacola, Fla., to benefit Hospice of the Valley and Covenant Hospice of Florida.
Campbell’s love of cycling and admiration of hospice care have much to do with his late wife, Carol, who passed away in 2008.
“My wife and I used to bike throughout Poland together, but that wasn’t endurance biking. When she passed, I had a bit of a ‘bucket list’ whose one entry was ‘take a long bike ride.’ I wanted it to be for a good cause. The staff at Hospice of the Valley treated our family with such compassion and comfort in my wife’s last days that there was really no question what organization should benefit,” Campbell explained.
Campbell is biking to the home of his daughter, Carolyn Styranec, in Pensacola, where she is also raising money to benefit a local Florida hospice care facility.
A “dream team” of friends, including Nick Pope, Jack Shetler, and Bo Korody will meet Campbell at stops throughout his ride, and help him find shelter, food and water for the next leg of his trip. Campbell hopes to arrive in Florida by Memorial Day.
Campbell is looking forward to seeing the back roads of America over his handlebars.
“Driving on the interstate at 70 miles an hour, there is so much that can zoom by you — I know, because I usually drive down to see my daughter. I think it’s going to be so neat to see so many places and really learn about where I’m riding through,” he said.
Before “the ride,” Campbell was simply a recreational cyclist, but has increased his endurance training in preparation for the trip. However, He said he likes biking for more than just testing his body.
“I guess I really started enjoying it at a time when I had just lost my wife. On the bike, I had a lot of time to think and reflect, and I really unwound as I rode. It may be corny, but the person on your mind is really traveling with you. That was comforting in the last few years and will be on ‘the ride,’ too,” he shared.
The cyclist hopes his trip will inspire individuals, businesses or corporations to donate to Hospice. Any checks to Hospice should include “the ride” in the memo box to donate in honor of Campbell’s project.