70-year-old Sandown firefighter, veteran to pedal from Florida to N.H.By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent March 29. 2018 8:37PM
More infoFor more on Jerry LaChance's ride, visit www.facebook.com/JerryRide/.
SANDOWN — Vietnam Army veteran Jerry LaChance isn’t worried about the weather when he pedals his bicycle on 2,850 miles of back roads from Key West, Fla. to Pittsburg, N.H. next month.
“The guys that are in Afghanistan right now have a hell of a lot more to worry about than rain. I’m doing it for these guys. I’m going to get through it,” said the 70-year-old LaChance, an avid bicyclist who has also served 23 years on the Sandown Fire Department.
LaChance is preparing for the 40-day journey to benefit Project Hero, a national nonprofit organization that builds and provides adaptive bikes for veterans and first responders affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other injuries.
LaChance is to fly to Miami on April 9 and begin his cycling adventure on April 10 from Key West. Firefighters in Miami will have his bike assembled by the time he arrives.
He plans to pedal into Pittsburg — New Hampshire’s northernmost town — on May 19.
This will be his third East Coast bike trip, and the second time he’s done it to help out veterans. Last year he raised nearly $25,000 for an adaptive sports program and this year hopes to raise the same or more.
LaChance has raised about $2,000 so far, but expects to collect more donations from people who hear about his effort and strangers he encounters along the way.
“I meet people that just give me money while I’m on the street. It’s just amazing,” he said.
LaChance put about 100 miles a day on his bike when he made the trip last year, but expects to ride about 70 miles a day this time around. He’s a year older and said he’s got to cut back a bit.
In preparation for the trip, LaChance traveled to Georgia last month and rode about 1,500 miles.
He said he’s thankful that his wife of 45 years is understanding of his bike trips and his mission.
He’s also glad that he has another chance to meet new people on his next journey.
“It brings out the best in people. I think they think I’m crazy, though,” he said.