Three Irishmen will cycle 6,000 kilometers across the U.S. beginning next week to raise money for two cancer charities.
Eoin McNamara, 26, Mark Leonard, 25, and William Kerwin, 26, will begin their trek in Seattle on August 1 and dismount in Washington, D.C. on September 18.
The three Irishmen, from Co. Dublin and Co. Wicklow, have all been affected by cancer in some way or another leading to their decision to undertake a long and challenging journey to raise as much money as possible for cancer patients.
McNamara, a law student, first got a taste for the open road in 2007 when he participated in a two-week cycle around Ireland.
“After that I just got hooked,” he told the Irish Voice last week.
McNamara, with Leonard, participated in the 2007 cycle to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society.
“Mark’s dad died of bowel cancer so that’s why we did the cycle and we managed to raise ***10,000 for it,” said McNamara proudly.
“We’re now hoping to do the same with our cycle in America and would like to see the money we raise go towards the support and care for cancer patients and their families like Mark’s dad received when he was ill.
“We’ve all been touched by cancer in some way. I watched my grandparents go through cancer and my girlfriend’s mother passed away from it in 2008.”
The night before they get on the road, a launch party will be held at the Celtic Swell pub in Seattle in their honor.
Many flat tires later, the men will host a celebratory party in Washington, D.C. at the Doyle Dupont Hotel on September 18.
To date the three have raised in excess of $20,000 and hope to reach up to $35,000.
After plans were put in place to cycle across the U.S., it was unanimously decided to split the donations between the Irish Cancer Society in Ireland and famed cyclist Lance Armstrong's Livestrong Foundation in the U.S.
The training involved for such an extreme distance cycle, said McNamara, takes much dedication and stamina.
“At the moment we are cycling just about every day, mainly up and down the Wicklow Mountains, to get our legs in shape for the journey ahead of us,” he said.
“We train early morning and late at night, whenever we can get the miles in.”
Aside from the training involved, McNamara and his friends mapped out their cycle route and booked their overnight accommodations alone.
“That took a lot of work figuring out the route, what states to go through and of course getting ourselves accommodations for the seven weeks we are on the road,” he said.
“The Americans have been very good to us. Almost three quarters of our accommodations have been given to us for free because of what we are doing. We are overwhelmed by the generosity and we haven’t even touched down in the U.S. yet.”
A two-man support team, Donal Lucy and Robert Shields, both of whom have lost grandparents to cancer, will accompany the cyclists.
All five men are paying the expenses associated with the trip out of their own pockets.
“Every penny we raise is going to go directly to the charities mentioned,” said McNamara.
McNamara and his friends are hoping the Irish and Irish American community will come out to support them in the various states they cycle through.
“We hope to have a fundraiser in each of the states we come into, and all of the money raised on the U.S. side will go towards the American charity Livestrong,” he said.
The three Irishmen will cycle through Seattle, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland before ending in Washington, D.C.
“Our schedule allows us to cycle 80 miles a day six days a week with one rest day for seven weeks. That should put us right on course,” added McNamara.
To find out more about the Irishmen’s journey across America or to donate to their cause, log onto www.Cycleofamerica2010.com.
Where does the term “the luck of the Irish” come from?