SALAMANCA — A group of four cyclists will spend tonight at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Salamanca as part of a 3,700-mile trip from Washington to Virginia in an effort to raise money and awareness for the Semper Fi Fund.
Called Cross Country Cyclists for Veterans — or CCC4Vets for short — the four men originally from California started in Anacortes, Wash. on Aug. 1 on their way across the country, through part of Canada and back south, hoping to finish in Yorktown, Virginia on Oct. 14.
The cyclists spent Wednesday night in Salamanca after starting the day in Hamburg and they planned to spend Thursday cycling to St. Mary’s, Pa. The group averages about 60 miles per day and stays at various places, sometimes with prior arrangements and other times asking fire departments, churches, American Legions or other civic groups for a place to pitch their tents.
“The ride is not about us,” said John Foldberg, the team’s leader and spokesperson. Foldberg is a retired Marine with 23 years of service. “It’s about the men and women who have been wounded and hoping to help them and support them.”
CCC4Vets has a goal of raising $20,000, which will be donated to the Semper Fi Fund, which provides immediate financial support for injured and critically ill wounded Marines and other veterans, according to CCC4Vet’s brochure.
Foldberg said the group has been raising the funds through speaking arrangements and donations given by people they pass by along the way.
Foldberg said the trip has really opened the eyes of the cyclists to the generosity of people across the country. He told stories of a passerby who handed them a $100 bill after hearing about their cause and a pair of children who donated their proceeds from sales at a lemonade stand.
“At the end of this thing, we’ll remember the different places of the country but the real remarkable thing will be the people we encounter,” Foldberg said. “Just some incredible generosity and not generosity necessary in the amount they give but generosity in sharing their heart or giving what they had.”
There have been a few wet days, about a week where two members of the group fell ill and a scheduling conflict with a ferry from Wisconsin into Canada, but overall the trip has been smooth, Foldberg said.
Members of the group, which know each other from the same church in California, spent last summer training for the extended cycling endeavor. Their graduation from the training included 170 miles along the Pacific Coast Highway, Foldberg said.
The route which started in Washington on Aug. 1 dipped south slightly to South Dakota before heading into Canada from the Michigan peninsula. They then rode south through Ontario and will cross through Western New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland before ending their trip in southeast Virginia.
Foldberg said the group will be heading through Bradford, Pa. late Thursday morning on their way to St. Mary’s, Pa.
“We ride for the wounded — that’s who we’re doing this for,” he said. “These men and women are coming home and will have lifelong challenges associated with their injuries.”
He added, “that’s where as American citizens (we) can come along these men and women and say ‘thank you for what you’ve done for us, now this is what we can do for you.’”
Foldberg was joined on the trip by Nathan and Daniel MacFarlane and Evan Gillham. To donate or for more information on CCC4Vets, visit www.ccc4vets.org or visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/ccc4vets.
(This story appeared in the Oct. 10, 2013 edition of The Salamanca Press.)