Newspapers, television and radio stations are constantly looking for good stories with a positive message that tie in to local and national current events.
Tell your local media about Bike Free’s mission of bringing the joy, freedom, and fun of a bicycle to the kids of our military families. Spread the word about Bike Free!
October 12, 2010 - SoCalCycling.com
October 11, 2010 - AFCEA San Diego Chapter (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association)
October 7, 2010 - KPBS: The Home Post
October 7, 2010 - Ecotrope
Bicycles: Bringing “freedom, hope, fun” to military kids by Cassandra Profita
October 7, 2010 – North County Times, Escondido
October 4, 2010 - Roy’s Restaurant, La Jolla, California
October 4, 2010 – Sioux City Journal, Iowa
Stolen bike never recovered by Tim Gallagher
September 21, 2010 - AOL HEALTH - That’s Fit
Pedaling 5,000 miles for military kids by Deborah Dunham
September 17, 2010 – The Sacramento Bee
Bikes for tykes by Rick Kushman
September 13, 2010 - Sioux City Journal, Iowa
Cross-country trek hits snag by Tim Gallagher
September 9, 2010 - Team Lucca, Sacramento, California
September 9, 2010 – USA Today
September 9, 2010 - Biking Bis
September 9, 2010 - The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Stolen brakes puts temporary brakes on charity ride by Ellie Bogue
September 8, 2010 - PortlandWiki
September 8, 2010 - Bike Baltimore, Maryland
Bike Free Update by Nate Evans
September 8, 2010 - KGW-TV (NBC), Portland
PDX woman replaces stolen bike by Scott Burton & Teresa Blackman
September 7, 2010 - WEND Magazine, Portland
Bike Touring Fundraiser’s Ride Stolen in Portland by Sami Ewers
September 7, 2010 - KXL 750 Radio, Portland
Can You Find Missing Buttercup? Jim Ferretti reporting
September 7, 2010 - The Oregonian
September 7, 2010 - BikePortland.org
Bike stolen in Portland after 3,000 mile charity ride by Jonathan Maus
September 7, 2010 - AltDaily, Hampton Roads, Virginia
Volunteerism and Disappointment in If You Read The Paper by BC Wilson
September 6, 2010 - KGW-TV (NBC), Portland
Fundraiser’s bike stolen in Portland by Scott Burton
September 6, 2010 - KPTV (Fox), Portland
September 6, 2010 - KOIN-TV (CBS), Portland
September 1, 2010 - The Union-Bulletin, Walla Walla, Washington
Cyclists ride to share the wheels by Jennifer Jorgenson
September 1, 2010 - KLEW-TV (CBS), Lewiston, Idaho
August 30, 2010 - Xanthe’s World
Bike Free! by Laurel Corona
August 27, 2010 - KECI-TV (NBC), Montana Today
August 26, 2010 - Lone Peak Lookout, Big Sky, Montana
August 25, 2010 - The Missoulian, Montana
Duo biking across country to benefit military families by Bill Schwanke
August 25, 2010 - The Cody Enterprise, Wyoming
Long ride for military kids by Brenna Braaten
The journey is long and hard, but the rewards will be well worth it.
Two men, Paul Lebelle and Adam Burkowske, are doing what they love, and helping the children of those in the military at the same time.
The pair created Bike Free, a nonprofit organization with the goal of giving bikes and helmets to kids with parents in the military.
Lebelle and Burkowske are now biking across the nation – from their home in Baltimore to San Diego – to raise money. They made a stop in Cody for a night Aug. 16, before heading into Yellowstone Park.
■ Like-minded friends
Lebelle and Burkowske had known each other for a few years but had fallen out of touch when they met up again as waiters at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant in Baltimore.
Both men had sold their cars to rely solely on bikes, so they started taking trips around the harbor to de-stress and decompress after work.
Bikes were a large part of each man’s past.
Burkowske grew up in a single-parent home with two brothers and a sister and relied on a bike for his transportation.
Lebelle received his first bike from his uncle for his sixth birthday.
“It is a bicycle that has seen me through some of my darkest days, and has brought me some of my happiest and joyous moments,” Lebelle said.
He said biking still gives him great joy but helps in other ways.
“It’s a way to work out your problems,” he said.
Both men also had military family history. Burkowske’s brother is in the Navy. Lebelle’s grandfather graduated from the Naval Academy and captained submarines, while his great uncle was killed in combat at Iwo Jima and received the Purple Heart.
■ Bike Free
The two put their minds together and decided to help by doing something they love: bicycling.
“We’re just two waiters,” Burkowske said, “but we thought we can certainly do something.”
Together, they came up with the idea of helping to give military kids bikes and helmets – helping them by sharing something they love.
“I know what an enlisted man makes,” Burkowske said. “I know how hard it would be to pay for things like bikes.”
And with more troops heading overseas, Lebelle said, now’s the time to do something.
Lebelle and Burkowske chose bicycles because they bring something special to people.
Burkowske said it’s a way to connect people, and they figured it could snowball in ways they couldn’t imagine.
“It’s like Paul says: I just want to bottle the joy my bike gives me and give it to someone else,” Burkowske said.
So the two sat down and began Bike Free, running the nonprofit by day and waiting tables at night – not an easy thing to do when you’ve never done it.
“Tax law isn’t a prerequisite to be a waiter,” Lebelle joked, “but we learned a lot about it.”
Sponsorships “fell into place,” starting with Roy’s.
“When we told our manager, the first thing he said was, ‘What can we do to help you?’” Burkowske said.
Roy’s restaurants across the country are hosting fundraising dinners, Anheuser-Busch has gotten involved, and the Rotary Club has sponsored tuneups and gear for the duo’s long trek, just to name a few.
Along the way, anyone else can host their own party as Lebelle and Burkowske come through town as well.
Neither men are taking a cut for themselves for their time, only spending money to pay for necessities – like much-need calories after a long day’s ride.
■ The goal
They say their goal is to raise enough money to buy bikes and helmets for 1,000 kids, but the truth is they made up the number when asked.
Burkowske and Lebelle are happy to get as much as they can.
“Our dreams are big,” Lebelle said. “Eventually, we’ll get there.”
It will take $125,000 to be able to give 1,000 bikes and helmets – a number they are nowhere near.
With that in mind, Lebelle and Burkowske are hopeful. They say their biggest events that will hopefully raise the most money will be on the West Coast toward the end of their journey.
No matter what they raise, the pair will be happy with whatever they can get to help the kids.
■ Maryland to Wyoming
After about a year of planning, Lebelle and Burkowske set out from the Chesapeake Bay on June 10.
Each man carries about 60 pounds of equipment, including tents, sleeping bags, extra clothes, food and water.
“We don’t carry the heavy stuff too long,” one said holding up a large can of tuna fish.
On a pair of Cannondale touring bikes, which are built for holding weight and have a seat designed for long hours, the men have worked their way from Baltimore, through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa.
They stopped in South Dakota to check out the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where they were the only bicyclists in attendance. Then, they snaked their way through Wyoming making it to Cody where they chose to stay the night.
“It’s a good entrance into Yellowstone,” Lebelle said. “We’ve heard of it before.”
“It’s one of those layovers into Yellowstone from the route we were coming in,” Burkowske added.
Coming in on US 14 from Greybull put them at 2,480 miles total – half of the estimated 5,000.
The pair ate dinner at La Comida, where they accidently ran into a retired couple from Baltimore and breakfasted at Granny’s before heading out of town again after a quick tuneup.
■ Onwards to California
The ride so far had its challenges, both men admit.
Now they say riding 50 miles a day is an easy day for them. But at the start when they weren’t used to it, one joked, it wasn’t nearly as easy. Being a waiter and biking all day are two different things.
Physically, they say, the toughest area was the Badlands of South Dakota where high temperatures and lack of water made the ride especially difficult.
They also joke that crossing the Powder River Pass, with a staggering 9,666-foot elevation, left them a little light headed.
All the other challenges, Lebelle said, are mental.
There are many positives as well, Burkowske said.
“We’ve met so many great people and had such warm welcomes,” he said.
“There are lots of beautiful people we’ve met and things we’ve seen,” Lebelle echoed.
The pair often rely on the kindness of strangers to put them up for a night or sometimes take them out for a meal.
But they still have a long way to go before they can reach their goal.
Lebelle and Burkowske planned on going through Yellowstone, up into Montana to Butte and Missoula, then through Lewiston, Idaho, before going to Portland and working their way down the coast.
■ Celebration and giving
They plan on finishing sometime in October. Their last big dinner is scheduled Oct. 12 at the Roy’s in La Jolla, Calif.
Several people will be in attendance, including Roy Yamaguchi himself, the founder of Roy’s.
There are several things being raffled off including bikes and a dinner made by Yamaguchi.
“We’re interested to see how many bikes we can get,” Burkowske said.
“If everyone just gave us a little bit, we’ll make our goal,” Lebelle added.
From there, the pair make the last short ride from La Jolla to San Diego.
Burkowske’s brother will be returning there around the same time, and they’re planning a big cookout with the military to celebrate.
They also will probably have a welcome-home party when they return to Baltimore.
The duo plans on giving the bikes to kids around the holidays. They are using United Service Organizations to find and distribute the bikes to the kids.
■ Next year
Lebelle and Burkowske are already planning for their next big adventure.
They’re thinking about next year taking kids out for weekend trips, something that gets them active.
“It’s more than just a fundraising ride,” Burkowske said. “We’ll impact them and make a difference.”
“This is our charge, our duty,” Lebelle said. “Every American needs to help out in this time of need.”
“It doesn’t just need to be a 60-year-old with lots of money,” Burkowske pointed out.
“The formula’s simple,” Lebelle added. “Take what you enjoy and bring it to someone else.”
Lebelle and Burkowske chose bicycling. They still have a long way to go, but they’ll take it one mile – and one dollar – at a time until they reach their 1,000-bike goal.
August 24, 2010 - KPAX-TV (CBS), Missoula, Montana
Cyclists riding cross-country for military kids by Beth Saboe
August 16, 2010 - Everything Cody
August 16, 2010 - Billings Gazette, Wyoming
Biking for cause, pair heads for park by Ruffin Prevost
August 13, 2010 – The Gillette News-Record, Wyoming
Cycling to San Diego for a good cause by Joy Lewis
August 11, 2010 - KDLT-TV News (NBC)
August 10, 2010 - Bmore Media
August 9, 2010 - KNBN-TV News Center1 (NBC)
Video: Pedal bikes in Sturgis?!
August 6, 2010 - 70th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
August 6, 2010 - Black Hills Mountain Bike Association
August 4, 2010 - KEVN TV, Black Hills Fox
August 4, 2010 - Rapid City Journal, South Dakota
Cyclists brave the elements to raise funds for kids of U.S. service members by Lynn Taylor Rick
August 4, 2010 - Dakota Midday, South Dakota Public Radio
August 4, 2010 - Black Hills Today, South Dakota
July 23, 2010 - KMEG-TV (CBS), Sioux City, Iowa
July 22, 2010 - Sioux City Journal, Iowa
Riders put wheels in motion for military children by Tim Gallagher
July 21, 2010 - The Messenger, Fort Dodge, Iowa
Cyclists go cross-country for military families by Ian Schmit
July 21, 2010 - Bike Bits, Adventure Cycling Association newsletter, Vol 12, No. 14
July 19, 2010 - KWWL-TV (NBC) and KWWL.com, Iowa
Video: Ride Across the USA
Duo biking across USA supporting military families by John Wilmer
July 19, 2010 - Telegraph Herald, Dubuque, Iowa
Video: Cross-country bike ride
July 18, 2010 – Telegraph Herald, Dubuque, Iowa
Bicyclists pedal for military families by Craig Reber
July 16, 2010 - Fort Wayne Daily News
July 15, 2010 – Rotaract Rant (Rotaract Club of Fort Wayne newsletter)
July 15, 2010 – RoadBikeRider Newsletter
July 11, 2010 - Wisconsin State Journal, Madison
Bicycle duo spreads love of cycling for good cause by Samara Kalk Derby
July 11, 2010 – Bike Free on NBC15, Madison
July 8, 2010 – OnMilwaukee.com
BikeFree.org to deliver 1,000 bikes by Christmas by Jason McDowell
July 7, 2010 - Off The Couch, The Journal-Sentinel, Milwaukee
Bikes for military kids by Tom Held
July 6, 2010 – Soldiers’ Angels
July 6, 2010 - Gyrator (Vol. 106, Issue 18), Rotary Club of Chicago
June 26, 2010 – The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Cyclists share coast-to-coast cause by Ellie Bogue
June 26, 2010 - Northwest Signal, Napoleon, Ohio
Cross-country cyclists raising money for bikes for kids by Jen Lazenby
Bicycles can give a sense of freedom and joy to the person riding, and two individuals are trying to give that feeling to children in military families
The goal of Paul Lebelle and Adam Burkowske of Maryland is to raise funds by riding cross-country to provide bicycles to children in military families, and the duo stopped in Napoleon Thursday night.
Before embarking on the journey, the friends met and worked together at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant and would ride their bikes together around the Inner Harbor.
“We were talking about how much fun it is to ride bikes,” said Lebelle. “Wouldn’t it be great to pass this feeling along?”
Meanwhile, Burkowske, who studied English in college, was pondering the idea of walking across the country and documenting the experience. However, Lebelle suggested riding bikes across the country instead of walking and offered to go with him.
The idea of providing bikes for kids in military families originated from both their love of bicycling, as well as thoughts of Burkowske’s brother who is in the military. While his brother doesn’t have children, Burkowske said he thought about how difficult it would be for families to purchase items like bicycles on the provided salary.
“We can surely give these kids something nice,” Burkowske said, adding the bikes will not only keep the kids physically active but also help raise their spirits.
“It’s to bring some fun into their lives,” Lebelle added.
While stopping for various fundraising events, they are also meeting other cyclists and people like Bree and Andy Damman of Napoleon, who offered them a place to spend the night.
Lebelle, who is 34, and Burkowske, 29, were headed toward Defiance Thursday when they encountered a closure on Road J and ended up at St. John United Church of Christ, where they stopped to see if they could find a place to spend the night.
Bree’s mom, who was at the church when they stopped, quickly suggested the couple as they have hosted cross-country cyclists on two other occasions.
“it’s been more than we ever could have imagined,” Lebelle said, adding they were given a warm bed, hot shower and meals. “There are good, friendly, warm-hearted people we have met so far.”
Bree added the church’s Vacation Bible School was working on a project with handcycles for people who have been injured by land mines and were very interested in the cyclists.
“They have a good cause,” Bree said. “I don’t think enough kids have bikes.”
The duo left Maryland June 10 from the lighthouse where they first came up with the idea and will travel more than 6,000 miles, stopping in Fort Wayne, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Portland and lastly San Diego. They left Napoleon Friday afternoon to head to Fort Wayne.
Bike Free is a registered 501 C(3) charity. For more information or to donate, visit www.bikefree.org.
Email comments to jenl @ northwestsignal.net.
The Northwest Signal newspaper is located in Napoleon, Ohio, and is online at www.northwestsignal.net.
June 26, 2010 – Fort Wayne Bike Commuter
June 20, 2010 – TMC News
June 20, 2010 – The Baltimore Sun, Maryland
Local cyclists on cross-country trek for charity by Joe Burris
June 10, 2010 – BIKE Baltimore
Bike Free by Nate Evans
June 2010 – Military Family Network Newsletter
May 21, 2010 – Bike is Good
May 20, 2010 – The Scene, Baltimore, Maryland