Can you imagine biking across the United States, alone? You can’t? Well, we can’t either. But that’s exactly what Alan Swinhoe did. For ten weeks, this very passionate cyclist and Starlight supporter rode cross country to raise awareness and funds for Starlight!
Here’s the backstory: 55-year-old Alan is in the best shape of his life. He’s retired, has one daughter and two grandkids and has been married for 28 years. Born and raised in the United Kingdom, he wanted to challenge himself while supporting a great cause. It took nine months of preparation. When we asked him why he chose Starlight as his charity of choice he said, “You’re doing great things for kids and no one can argue with that. If my grandkids were ever hospitalized, I would love for them to have Starlight in their lives.”
“America Needs More Roundabouts”
Alan began his journey on April 26 in New York headed toward San Francisco, and every day he would average about 80 miles. He met poorly trained dogs, angry drivers and sometimes it felt like he hit every red light. Those were his least favorite. For obvious reasons, no day was the same. Some days were harder than others like that one time he rode seven miles uphill only to find the road was closed up ahead.
“I chose to ride alone because this is my challenge. I have no one to argue with if something goes wrong. It also forces me to meet people,” Alan said.
But it did get lonely at times.
While in Philadelphia he rode past a softball he saw lying in the grass. He kept on riding but eventually circled back around to rescue it. The yellow ball had big printed letters on it that spelled “Franklin.” From then on, Franklin crossed the country with Alan. Just like Tom Hanks and his volleyball named Wilson in the film Cast Away, Franklin became an important piece of the journey.
“I now had someone with me through hell or high water,” chuckled Alan.
Raising Awareness, One Coffee Shop at a Time
Alan’s favorite state was Nevada, where he could see the road ahead for miles at a time. Whenever he would eat at a restaurant or stop in for coffee he would strike up a conversation with the locals to tell them about his adventure and Starlight. Folks would hand him cash to contribute to his fundraiser. Two kind strangers along the journey donated fifty dollars each.
Alan made it safely to San Francisco, a few pounds lighter but with a stronger spirit to helping hospitalized kids. He’s heading back home to take a little break, and then he’ll ride across the U.K. to raise money for Starlight U.K.
Creative Ways to Fundraise
There are so many ways to help hospitalized kids and we’re so grateful for Alan’s dedication! You don’t have to cycle across the country, but you can hold a bake sale or donate your birthday. The possibilities are endless when you’re passionate. Tell us your fundraising idea today!