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Riding across Ga. for a cause

Atlanta attorney aims to bike in every county, benefit legal services for low-income people

Riding across Ga. for a cause

Riding across Ga. for a cause

Damon Elmore rides recently in his 73...

The hardest part of Damon Elmore’s recent 10-mile bicycling excursion through Bulloch County came very close to the end: climbing Joe Hodges Hill on Georgia Highway 67.
Ten miles is routine for an experienced cyclist like Elmore. But Bulloch County was his third ride of the day, after taking similar rides in Candler and Emanuel counties.
Even so, he showed little sign of fatigue once he pulled into the start/finish of his journey, The Bike Shop on Highway 67.
Even more notable than Bulloch being his third county of the day on May 3, it was the 86th Georgia county in which he had cycled since November. That left him with 73 to go to accomplish his goal of riding in all of the state’s 159 counties.
Elmore is doing this not only because he is a bicycling enthusiast, but as part of his campaign to raise awareness, and money, for the Georgia Legal Services Program.
He said he came up with the idea when he bought his new bicycle last year and his neighbor was training for a Susan G. Komen 3-Day event, in which participants raise money for breast cancer and walk a total of 60 miles over three days.
“I thought, couldn’t I naturally bike to raise awareness, and how would I make it interesting, what would I accomplish?” Elmore said.
He started participating in triathlons, and from that, he decided he wanted to see and appreciate more of the state, see the conditions in which people live, and have a chance to tell people about the Georgia Legal Services Program.
The nonprofit organization, of which Elmore is a board member, helps low-income people with civil matters, such as landlord-tenant issues, child custody cases and divorces. Its service area is 154 counties in Georgia. The other five — Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett — are served by a parallel organization, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.
Elmore, 42, is a Savannah native who is a partner in Atlanta law firm Moore Sparks LLC. He specializes in labor and employment issues.
He grew up loving to ride his bike, but after college, his rides became less frequent until nearly three years ago.
“I picked the habit back up wanting to adopt a healthier lifestyle. I would not want to say the cliche ‘midlife crisis,’ but coincidentally, around that time, …” he said, laughing. Then he took a more serious tone.
“My father died of a heart attack at age 49, and I think there was a sense of — a little bit of — mortality, and I’ve got some blood pressure issues,” he said. “I never was a runner, so it just seemed like the natural next step to get back into (cycling) and show that I was staying on top of my health.”
When he started his campaign to ride in every county in Georgia, he naturally started with counties closer to the metro Atlanta area, though he does say technically his first cycling county was his native Chatham. He also would work in rides when he attended State Bar of Georgia events or other work-related business that took him around the state.
This weekend, he is in the Augusta area, visiting the Georgia Legal Services regional office there and bicycling with some lawyers based in and around Richmond County.
While in Statesboro on May 3, Elmore visited with Sharri Edenfield, a partner in Edenfield, Cox, Bruce & Classens PC. Ednefield credited Elmore with getting her actively involved with the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia. When he was president of Young Lawyers, he made Edenfield a co-chairwoman of the division’s Leadership Academy.
Young Lawyers, incidentally, created the Georgia Legal Services Program in 1971 and still supports it today.
“I’ve done some pro bono work (with) GLSP — they don’t have enough attorneys,” Edenfield said. “They also rely on local attorneys in the area to help with cases, and I’ve done that, primarily with domestic violence cases. I’ve taken on a bunch, getting temporary protective orders and things like that.”
Elmore said he would like to ride in every county before the end of the year, though that is not a hard-and-fast deadline.
“I haven’t really identified the last county, but I think I’ll save Towns and Union, which will let me ride up Brasstown Bald, which I’m not looking forward to,” said Elmore, referring to the mountain near the North Carolina border which, at 4,784 feet above sea level, is the highest point in Georgia.
“I have some friends who are pros who tell me they do it at 4 miles an hour. So if they’re doing it at 4, I’ll probably bike/walk.”
Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.

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