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50-day Bike Trek Nets $20,000 for Charity

by on September 15, 2012 6:24 AM

Over the summer Larry Emigh took on a 3,415-mile bike ride across the country to raise awareness about dyslexia, and to raise funds for the Children’s Dyslexia Center in State College.

With a monetary goal of $250,000 for the center, Emigh rode for 43 days and crossed over 15 state lines. But all the while he was doing it for a cause close to home.

Emigh, board chairman of the Children’s Dyslexia Center, tracked his 50-day journey on his blog, Tour for Dyslexia. Through his almost-daily recounts, he received a plethora of support, both emotionally and monetarily, and from both strangers and friends.

Now back in Happy Valley, Emigh has had some time to reflect on his trip. And while his journey may have ended June 29, his work isn’t quite done yet.

The Journey

Emigh brought in a little more than $20,000 from his trip, he said. A majority of the donations came in before he left. Others made commitments and donated a certain amount per mile traveled, he said. All of the money will go directly to the center.

No doubt one of his most challenging feats, Emigh said he usually traveled more than 100 miles per day.

“I don’t think I had a day as low as 40 miles,” he said.

Emigh said he faced various challenges along the way, such as starting out the trip in a dessert for three days that reached 112 degrees, or climbing mountains in Arizona and New Mexico.

And in Missouri, where most of the rides expected the terrain to be flat, Emigh encountered “rolling hills,” he said. One day he rode up and down 100 hills, the next day there were 148.

“There were different types of challenges,” he said.

But what got him through the tough times, he said, were the other riders, the staff and “faith in yourself that you can do it.”

His other inspiration came from knowing his ultimate goal was to bring awareness to children with dyslexia and to support the center.

Looking back, Emigh said the trip was “an experience of a lifetime.”

Riding a bicycle through parts of the country, as opposed to a car, allowed him to slow down, meet people and experience the culture, he said.

“(It was an) opportunity to absorb,” he said.

Emigh said he occasionally stopped to greet people along the street or in their yards; most were supportive of the trip.

“(I) met some great people along the way,” Emigh said.

Emigh also had the chance to meet some children with dyslexia during his trip, including in Kansas, and at the final stop in Boston.

These young boys came out to meet Emigh, he said, which was encouraging and inspiring to him, and helped him see firsthand how his trip and fundraising may help them.

Behind the Scenes

Emigh started training for his ride in January of 2010, he said.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years,” he said, but his schedule didn’t permit the time before. When he retired he was able to take eight weeks off work for the tour, he said, as well as train seriously.

Emigh has held the position as board chairman of the center since 2006 when the board formed. The first students were accepted in 2007, he said.

Emigh became interested in dyslexia, and helping those who have it, around 1994, he said, when dyslexia centers started to form throughout other regions.

Emigh found himself attending different seminars in various states between 1994 and 2006. He heard students, who weren’t even able to read a year before, “talk with such confidence,” he said.

That helped him make a decision.

“(It’s a) great organization to try and help financially,” he said.

The Tour Continues

Emigh, of State College, said donations are still being accepted through his blog, and plans are underway to continue the Tour for Dyslexia locally. A biking event will be held, he said, to raise money for the center.

The Children’s Dyslexia Center, located on West College Avenue, requires some $50,000 to be raised each year to balance its operating budget, as well as another $20,000 for rent and utilities, according to center director Marsha Landis.

The center, which began in 2006, is one of 50 centers in 15 states operated by the Children’s Dyslexia Centers Inc. The State College facility has some 16 active students and a growing waiting list, Landis said.

Children ages 6 through 18 who live within an hour to 90-minute travel time radius are served by the center, Landis said. Enrolled students come from such counties as Clinton, Centre, Blair, Clearfield, Huntingdon and Lycoming, she said.

The board works to raise money through both grants and donations, Landis said, as well as a variety of fundraising events and projects.

“We need community support to build an endowment that will earn interest to secure the future of the center,” Landis said, explaining that it costs the center approximately $5,000 to tutor a child for one year.

“We need angels who understand how we help change lives and the futures of these children, and are willing to give us financial support to allow us to keep on changing lives,” she said.

The center provides, free of charge, remedial reading services for children with dyslexia; promotes and encourages the education of professionals, tutorial scholars and the public, to become resources in teaching children to read; and advances scientific knowledge of dyslexia through support of clinical research, according to its website. For more information visit www.childrensdyslexiacenter.org.

To reach Emigh’s blog, visit tourfordyslexia.org.



Staff Writer at The Centre County Gazette
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