The 25th annual Jim Kruse Century Bike Ride is set for April 13 and the sponsor Southern Cyclists is encouraging bike riders to take part in the fundraiser. The ride benefits Donate Life Georgia, which is dedicated to saving and enhancing lives by registering organ, eye and tissue donors.
The ride begins at Mill Creek Park, and participants can choose a route that covers 25, 50, 65 or 100 miles of scenic country roads with well-stocked rest stops and support vehicles along the way.
A member of Southern Cyclists, Kruse didn’t commit to riding a bike until the age of 76, though many of his earlier years were spent on a motorcycle.
Born in Michigan and raised in Wisconsin, Kruse delivered magazines on a Western Flyer Bicycle for a department store from the age of 12 to 16. After that, however, he became an avid motorcyclist and motorcycle racer.
Kruse was the oldest member of Southern Cyclists, and when the club found out in 1993 that he had cancer, they sponsored a century ride – one hundred miles in a day – in his honor. While he fought cancer for two years, the club made Ogeechee Area Hospice the beneficiary of the ride.
Other beneficiaries throughout the years have been the Red Cross and the Silver Lining Club.
Southern Cyclists member Kris Yager-Rushton said the race this year hits close to home, as she was the recipient of a kidney and pancreas transplant at the age of 29. That was 20 years ago, but she remembers it like it was yesterday.
Rushton’s health had declined because of diabetes. She was diagnosed at the age of 6 with Type I Diabetes.
About her transplant experience, Rushton said: “I got the call on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving that I’d been added to the transplant list.”
Though she didn’t know how long she’d have to wait, Rushton received word than a week later that she should come to the hospital.
She and husband, Ed Rushton, made arrangements with their bosses, called their parents and situated care for their cat.
“I’m incredibly grateful,” said Rushton about being an organ recipient.
She believes the best way to honor her donor is to take care of her health, and she does that partly by bicycling with the Southern Cyclists and her husband, typically three times each week.
Registration for the fundraiser is $35, and the deadline to register is March 28. Riders can sign up at www.southerncyclists.com.