St. Paul's students supporting veterans from sea to sea
BEDFORD -- While many high school students are spending this summer hitting the beach and procrastinating on their summer reading lists, a eight classmates from St. Paul's School in Concord will be biking cross-country to support wounded U.S. veterans.
The St. Paul's 11th-graders - including New Hampshire residents Mandi Paine of Moultonborough and Max Vivado of Bedford - will fly to Oregon after their June exams to begin their 46-day, 3,400-mile journey. Their efforts will benefit Ride 2 Recovery, a nonprofit organization that supports rehabilitation programs for wounded U.S. veterans that feature cycling as the core activity.
It is the second time the school has chosen to support the organization; a ride in 2011 brought more than $100,000.
"I thought this was a great way to spend the summer and give back to the community," Max Vivado, the Bedford resident, said.
The team has set a fund-raising goal of $100,000, which they describe as challenging, yet attainable, on their website.
"It's a pretty high goal," Vivado said, though he noted that he and his teammates have raised about $60,000 so far, with a possible $10,000 grant in the offing.
The group has sent out more than 1,000 letters to family and friends asking for financial support.
"We're reaching out to everyone we know," said Vivado.
The route will take the students from Oregon to Idaho, then on to Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, before they head north to Canada, then southeast toward New England.
Vivado said family members will take turns driving a support van along the route, and the students will camp out and find other low-cost places to stay in order to limit expenses and donate as much money as possible.
Veterans will be encouraged to join the riders along the route.
The group also will participate in a cross-country cycling tradition of sorts, Vivado said.
"You dip your back wheel into the Pacific Ocean at the beginning, and when you get back, you dip your front wheel in the Atlantic," he said.
They are expected to do that on July 27 after veterans meet up with them in North Hampton and join them for the final miles to the ocean, said Ride 2 Recovery spokesperson Debora Spano.
Spano said the previous ride made a definite impression on the veterans served by the organization.
"The guys that rode with them were in awe of what these kids were able to do," she said.
Spano said that while she doesn't know if the riders are aware of the commitment they are making, she is impressed by their effort.
"It just shows that there is promise in our youth," she said. "To see them come forward with that kind of commitment for those who served our country is huge."
On the web: To learn more about the St. Paul's School cyclists and how to support their ride, visit the team's website at spscyclists2013.wix.com/sps-cyclists-2013.