By: Shannon Bishop
Despite hot weather, health concerns and a 184-mile bike ride, two members of the Fort Detrick community plan to participate in the Great Bicycle Tour of the C&O Canal to raise money for the San Mar Children’s Home in Boonsboro, Md. from July 14-17.
Gene Stitely and Siegfried Bruner, graphic artists at the Visual Information office, continue to prepare for the bike ride from Cumberland, Md. to Georgetown, D.C. In preparation for the fundraiser, Bruner rides to work, three miles every day. Stitely cycles as well, he continues to prepare at a local gym.
“I’m fairly comfortable with the ride, I’m just excited to be a part of this,” Bruner said. “I love riding and this is a great fundraiser, it makes this event a perfect match.”
Physically preparing isn’t all these men need, they must prepare financially as well. Each participant must raise a minimum of $450 in order to ride. Stitely, according to the event’s website, has raised $3,565, and he continues to collect more. Stitely has raised money by asking for donations on Facebook and through a silent auction he organized earlier this year.
“Gene is very socially connected and adept at raising funds, he’s the one that called all of our attention to this event,” Bruner said. “This is a team effort this year, we want to do our part and raise awareness at Fort Detrick about this.”
The Great Bicycle Tour of the C&O Canal provides riders the opportunity to support a great cause without having to race. Riders can go at their own pace and take breaks every ten to 15 miles. All meals and snacks are provided throughout the event as well as camping fees paid for the first two nights or transportation to nearby hotels.
The ride lasts for four days in the middle of July. “This is an event that people come back to year after year,” said Dan Day, director of Development and Marketing at San Mar Children’s Home.
“I rode last year and only survived one day,” Stitely said. “[My goal this year is] finishing, I’m trying to do all four days.”
Stitely has suffered two heart attacks and battled tongue cancer. Bruner suffers from severe sleep apnea, creating concerns for camping where he is unable to use his machine at night. Despite the health concerns these two cyclists face, they both intend to raise money and participate in this fundraiser to help troubled girls.
The San Mar Children’s school, founded in 1883 created a place for orphaned children to go after the Civil War. One hundred years later the board of managers at the home made the decision to specialize care to adolescent girls and to increase services offered. At the same time an extensive renovation of the facility was completed.
For more information about the San Mar Children’s Home visit www.sanmarhome.org or call (301) 733-9067. If you are interested in participating in the bike ride or would like to make a donation visit www.tgbt.org.