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Alton Central grad hits the road for a good cause

Cory Damm and riding partner set sites on transcontinental bike ride

RYAN PAGE (left) and Cory Damm will be setting out from New York City on a bike ride to San Francisco on Monday morning. (Courtesy photo) (click for larger version)
October 04, 2009
ALTON — If Cory Damm was looking for a challenge, he has certainly found one.

"We're going for a little bike ride, a little pedal around the block," Damm said with a laugh.

Damm, a member of the Alton Central School Class of 2005, the final high school class to graduate from the school, will be setting out on Monday morning from Battery Park in New York City for a 3,349-mile bike ride across the United States.

Damm and riding partner Ryan Page of Epping, are making the trek to raise funds for the Anderson Oncology Fund, which is based in Meredith and was established in 2000 by Jerry and Lynn Anderson to help oncology patients in the Lakes Region with the expensive costs of fighting their cancer.

Lynn Anderson successfully fought her battle with cancer and has been cancer free for seven years, but Jerry Anderson succumbed to lung cancer in April of 2005.

The idea of a golf tournament to help support the Anderson Oncology Fund was brought forth by family members prior to Jerry Anderson's death and to date, that annual tournament has raised more than $50,000 for the fund, allowing hundreds of patients to receive the treatment they need, without delay.

"I've been involved with the Anderson Oncology Fund for a while," said Damm, noting that he missed the golf tournament last year and was looking for a way to help support the fund.

"We want to raise awareness to the outrageous costs for livesaving drugs for people who can't afford them," Damm said. "We spoke with the family and thought it would be great to try to match the golf event."

Neither Damm or Page had ever completed a 100-mile bicycle ride when they came up with the idea, and when the idea was originally conceived, it was a cheap way to get them back out west.

"We were living in Park City (Utah) last year and were talking about how to get back for the ski season next year," Damm said. The biking suggestion came about because the friends figured it would be a cheap alternative to driving or flying.

"Then I thought, we can do it for charity," Damm said.

With the idea of the ride conceived and on the table, the friends began training, riding 30 to 40 miles each day and just recently recorded their first "century ride," a ride of 100 miles in length, which they accomplished in five and a half hours.

"We were just amateur cyclists before," Damm said. "This is our true propellant into the bicycling world."

The friends are hoping to click off 60 to 70 miles a day for approximately 60 days, with one rest day a week. They are packing a tent, sleeping bags and a little food.

"We'll figure it out as we go, as far as staying alive," Damm said. "It's going to be an adventure doing it that way."

The pair will start out from Battery Park, near the Statue of Liberty in New York City, the spot they originally hoped to start from.

"We couldn't get a ferry out to the Statue of Liberty so early in the day," Damm said.

From New York, the duo will head south to Nashville, then head westward, with a stop in Park City, before heading on to San Francisco Bay.

But Damm stressed that making San Francisco really wasn't the point of the ride.

"It's not the journey, it's the destination," he said. "We drove across country last year for the first time and that was a big inspiration (to do it on bikes).

While Damm is hopeful to raise money for the Anderson Oncology Fund, he is also hoping that he and Page can help inspire people to also start something like that in their own hospitals across the country.

As for the trek, Damm figures there are bound to be a number of tricky tasks, at opposite ends of the weather spectrum.

"The Nevada dessert, that will be an adventure," he stated. "And hopefully it's not snowing in the Rockies."

The pair expects to be in Steamboat Springs, Colo. around the middle of November, which could prove to be the chilliest portion of the ride, with the Nevada dessert to follow as the warmest portion of the ride.

Damm is planning to carry his camera with him and is hoping to put together a photo essay of his journey. The pair is also running a Web site, where people can donate to the cause and keep track of Damm and Page as they work their way across the United States.

The Web site can be viewed at http://transbike.weebly.com/.

Matin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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