Sandown volunteer firefighter completes bike ride from NH to Florida to raise $18,500 for veteransBy HUNTER McGEE
Union Leader Correspondent October 02. 2016 9:39PM
SANDOWN — Pedaling his bike from the Granite State to Florida to raise money for his fellow veterans, Sandown volunteer firefighter Jerry Lachance finished his 2,300-mile journey Friday in Key West.
With well-wishers gathered around, Lachance rode to the entrance of the famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar and then went inside to be congratulated by Key West Fire Chief Mike Davilla. The event was broadcast live on Sloppy Joe’s webcams
The Vietnam combat veteran made the ride in an effort to raise money for Ride 2 Recovery, an organization that supports America’s veterans.
“To me it’s for the veterans, it isn’t about Jerry Lachance, it isn’t about riding to Florida, it’s about the veterans and getting help for them,” said Lachance, 68.
Striving to reach $10,000, Lachance shattered that goal and raised, at last count, approximately $18,500. He thanked all the people along the way who mainly gave small donations of $5 and $10.
During the 28-day trip, Lachance had a flat tire in Bergen, N.J., and was able to repair it on the spot. Stopping at local firehouses, Lachance was well received and was invited to attend training and have a meal, according to organizers.
“From what started as a ‘crazy idea’ from a 68-year-old volunteer fireman has spiraled into an amazing adventure for Jerry, myself and all of his supporters from around the world,” said Sandown EMS Capt. Jonathan Goldman.
And for hundreds of miles in Florida, Lachance said he was escorted by firefighters, police and sheriff’s officers and state police. He praised authorities in Miami for holding up rush-hour traffic for him.
“It was phenomenal that they would just stop traffic all the way through Miami at rush hour, hold everyone up because it was, again, not me but because we are doing something for the veterans,” Lachance said.
One of his most memorable experiences, Lachance said, was when he passed under a bridge somewhere in the Miami area and saw a huge American flag hung by an aerial ladder truck. As he passed by he saw a number firefighters saluting him.