By Kristin Rover
Michael Jennings, a physical education teacher at Georgetown High School, is truly pedaling with a purpose this summer.
Jennings is more than 2,900 miles into a charity ride across the United States, and on July 9, the cyclist pedaled through Batavia.
Jennings stopped by the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office to thank Sheriff A.J. “Tim” Rodenberg for supporting him on the ride while he was in Batavia.
Jennings’ organization, Pedaling with Purpose, is raising money for three charities on the ride including Brian Grant Foundation, a foundation that helps individuals affected by Parkinson’s Disease; Rachael’s Raising Hope, supporting the family of Jennings’ friend who died from cancer in May; and Spencer’s Army, an organization raising money for vascular research.
“The biggest thing is not only raising funds, but also awareness,” Jennings said about his trip.
Jennings talks to people he meets about the struggles of the individuals he is raising money for and their organizations wherever he goes. He has a photograph of Rachael pinned to his bike.
“He has influenced so many people,” Jennings’ friend Chad McKibben, a business teacher at Georgetown High School, said about him.
Jennings said the ride is also an opportunity to be physically active, and he said he hopes to be an inspiration to other individuals who want to make lifestyle changes.
“In 2011 I weighted about 300 pounds,” Jennings said. “I am 220 now.”
Jennings said he began making lifestyle changes including changing his diet and exercising.
He bought a bicycle and began cycling.
It was when he told one of his students that he wanted to bike across America that the dream became a goal.
“I asked my students about things you want to do,” Jennings said. “One of my students asked me, and I said bike across the country.”
Jennings used his summer vacation to accomplish goal.
He began in Astoria, Oregon on June 2. So far, he has traveled through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
Jenning said the ride has been challenging, and there are times he has wanted to throw in the towel, but he said the scenery he is witnessing and the people he is meeting are amazing.
“So many people have really helped us,” Jennings said about the ride.
Jennings began his journey June 2, and he said he is hoping to finish the trip around July 19.
“Hopefully something like this can inspire someone,” Jennings said about his trip. “There are bigger things out there, just do it.”
When Jennings left the sheriff’s office, he pedaled through Batavia, into Williamsburg and back home to Georgetown where he visited with his family. He will soon be en route to Yorkstown, Virginia, where he will complete the 3,500 mile ride through 13 of the United States.
For more information about Jennings’ or the charities, visit www.pedalingwithpurpose.org.