Today twelve gentlemen who attend Western Kentucky University depart on the ride of their lives. These men have more tenacity than 90 percent of all college students past and present, including myself. John William Owens (Will), the public relations manager for Bike4Alz describes the group’s project in his words. The two of us have been communicating about Bike4Alz since November 2011. When I initially heard of what they had planned, I was astounded.
When I was in school, I calculated the least possible amount of studying I needed to do to pass my classes. My energy was focused on chasing girls and planning the next best party in campus history. While I never regret the way I lived my college life, I am in admiration of what Will and the Bike4Alz team is doing.
In reverence to these brave men, I present: Bike4Alz by John William Owens. –Carlos Barrios, Founder of Ender for Alzheimer’s
When I first came to college in fall of 2010, I wasn’t passionate about anything. I was living on a day-to-day basis. Some friends influenced me to rush a fraternity and that’s when everything changed. Upon entering the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity house, also known as Fiji, I came across a picture frame. Inside the frame was a bike jersey along with two pictures: one taken by the Pacific Ocean in California, and the other at the Atlantic in Virginia. A member of the fraternity noticed my interest and began telling me the story.
It all began with Tyler Jury, a sophomore from Elizabethtown, KY. He wanted to do something that would change the world. When he lost his grandfather to Alzheimer’s in 2009, he had something to direct his passion towards. He recruited 5 other fraternity members and together they formed Fijis Across America. Their goal: end Alzheimer’s. Beginning in Oceanside, CA, these 6 college students rode their bicycles 3,200 miles to Yorktown, VA, raising $56,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association.
The story of Fijis Across America inspired me to make a change. I attended the Alzheimer’s Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C. in May of 2011. I had heard of the effects of Alzheimer’s and how it destroyed families, but I had never listened to real people telling real stories in person. Needless to say, I was blown away. I was frustrated that the number of Alzheimer patients keeps increasing while the disease is still incurable. That’s when I decided to help organize a second ride to combat this terrible disease.
When we returned to classes in the fall, I knew I wanted to repeat Fijis Across America. I had found my passion. My peers and I began discussing a possible repeat in fraternity meetings and before I knew it, I was planning Bike4Alz. Nine of us began coming together once a week to plan the new ride. We decided to go from north to south, sending us through 14 major cities, allowing us to set an ambitious goal of $175,000. As college students, we felt overwhelmed at times, but that’s when we would read people’s stories and how the disease had affected their lives and we would press on. As we begin this two-month journey from Canada to Key West, it’s important for us to remember why we’re riding. Bike4Alz isn’t about bringing personal glory to each of us participating. It’s about taking advantage of the time we have as college students over the summer to make a change. If we raise $20,000 or $200,000, success will only come in seeing an end to this disease.
To find out more on Bike4Alz, visit our website, www.Bike4Alz.org and check us out on Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. The ride begins May 25th in International Falls, MN and will end around July 22nd in Key West, FL.
Written by John William Owens
20 years old. Resides in Louisville, KY, Junior at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.
Want to learn more about Bike4Alz? Check out these articles:
College Students Cycle Across the US for Alzheimer’s
Accept the Cycle of Alzheimer’s Disease by Overcoming Its Restraints
General Information and List of Participants
For more information, make a donation and to follow the riders during the trip visit the website: http://www.bike4alz.org/
“Like” Bike4Alz’s Facebook page to stay posted on the riders location and information about events: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bike4Alz/102053333244863
Visit Will’s blog for information and updates: http://jwillowens.wordpress.com/
Be sure to join the cause by following the riders on twitter @Bike4Alz
If you would like to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association, in support of the Bike 4 Alz please use the link below.
If you would like to mail your donations please make checks payable to Dylan Ward and send them to:
1311 College Street
Bowling Green, KY, 42101
If you would like your donation to be named for a specific rider, please include their name in the memo line of the check.
You can email Bike4Alz with any questions you have at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bike 4 Alz members: John William Owens, Josh Amos, Will Garcia, Ben Harris, Bryan Hartzell, Kent Jones, Austin Lanter, Blake Neumann, Dylan Ward, Sam Wells, Tyler Wittmer and Trip Carpenter.
Biking photo by Shelby Mack, published in the WKU Herald.
The “Bike4Alz” logo has is explicit property of Bike4Alz and has been used with permission.