Local bikers peddle up thousands for St. Jude’s

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 8, 2005

As she and the rest of the participants in the St. Jude’s Children Hospital Bike-A-Thon started off from Southside Baptist Church on Saturday morning, Amy Spencer wasn’t sure what would happen.

The sky was gray and overcast, already drizzling rain on the bikers. The temperature was low to begin with, and with the wind, it was certain to drop by more than a few degrees. The peddlers had a 15-mile ride down to the Target Distribution Center on Lummis Road and back, and Spencer didn’t know if the bikers, particularly the young and inexperienced ones, would be able to pilot their two-wheelers all the way through.

But over the next few hours, Spencer found out just how important the hospital was to the 60-plus two-wheelers. Dis-regarding the weather, their inexperience, and everything else that could have impeded their progress, the kids and adults hurtled across the Suffolk streets and back again, raising more than $1,700 for St. Jude’s.

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&uot;It’s a lot colder than I thought it would be,&uot; Spencer said as she and other bikers escaped from the cold inside the church and huddled while waiting for the rest of the participants to arrive.

&uot;They were really dedicated and I’m proud of them, especially the little ones.&uot;

One such one was Nicole Park, 8.

&uot;It was good,&uot; said the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy student. &uot;It gave me exercise, and now I want to go home and take a hot bath!&uot;

&uot;It was great to help out St. Jude’s,&uot; said Andrew Shaffer, 11. &uot;I didn’t think I could go 15 miles, but I was able to. I haven’t exercised in a while.&uot;

Some of the donations had been given by the mile, said Spencer, while others had handed in a flat rate. Some of the bikers said that they were helped along by a quick stopover at a member’s house along the trail.

&uot;This helped me in my career,&uot; said Helen Bohlmann, 18, who wants to be a marine. &uot;Being in ROTC taught me what military life was about, and I like to yell. I want to be a drill sergeant. The bike race was hard, but not as hard as boot camp.&uot;