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Riding for a cause; Man cycling 6,500 miles to raise money for charities

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Posted: April 2, 2007 6:47 p.m.
Updated: April 17, 2007 5:00 a.m.
As Bob Lee approaches his 65th birthday later this month, he's turned his focus to find ways to make life richer for those around him.
    As part of that, Lee is in the beginning stages of a 6,500 mile bicycle ride up the East Coast of the United States and then across the northern border with Canada.
    "How do we find significance and how do we make the best of each day," Lee asked as a way of explaining why he's pedaling across the country.
    Lee is riding to raise money for the American Cancer Society, the Les Turner ALS Foundation and the National Hospice Foundation. He's set up a website (www.3reasons.org) to update people interested in following his progress and to accept donations to the three agencies. As of Monday afternoon, he'd already raised more than $200,000 towards his goal of half a million dollars.
    "I think we can do it with everyone's support," he said. "It doesn't take a lot, but it takes a lot of people giving something."
    Lee pledged that 100 percent of all donations will go to the three organizations. He said he's received gifts from more than 1,200 people in 35 states and four countries.
    He said he's had young children break open their piggy bank to donate as well as school-aged children who have donated and told him stories of how cancer or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig disease, has affected their life.
    "It's really a mulit-generational thing," he said.
    My initial goal was to raise $65,000 for each charity, but when he was able to exceed that goal, a new mission was set.
    His trip brought him to Statesboro Monday afternoon, where he remained before departing today on the second leg of his trip which will take him to Wilmington, North Carolina, and through Walterboro and Jamestown, South Carolina en route to Wilimington.
    Lee's trip will take him from St. Augustine, Fla. to Bar Harbor, Maine and then he will fly to Anacortes, Wash, where he'll ride back to Maine. In total, he'll cycle 6,500 miles.
    The trip is a "solo effort" he said, and it's more about the journey than the destination. In fact, he said he wakes up each morning and tries to figure out where he's going for the day. Lee expects the trip to take between five and six months, though he's more focused on meeting people and raising awareness than he is in finishing.
    "It's not a race," he said.
    Lee previously rode across the southern United States to raise money for ALS. During that trip, he met Rich and Lisa Crane who emailed him regularly with support. Rich Crane had ALS, but his support and enthusiasm so deeply affected Lee that the three became friends. When Crane died, Lee spoke at his funeral.
    "Rich was our 'attitude coach,'" Lee said. "He had the best attitude. He was going through  the end of his life and gave us words of encouragement when we should have been supporting him."
    Lee's website tracks his progress each day and also has updates from the road. He said he'll try to update his journal at least every other day and there is a map feature that tracks where Lee is.
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