By: Ethan Maurice
Over the summer of 2013, my brother and I pedaled 4,450 miles across the entire United States to raise funds for Phoenix Children's Hospital (PCH). We raised $96,832 for the hospital that saved my life and had the adventure of a lifetime pedaling coast to coast over 76 days.
It all started with a mosquito bite. Three weeks later I was unconscious, rushed by paramedics through the doors of Phoenix Children's Hospital in a grand mal seizure. Doctors quickly induced a coma to stop the seizure and began running scans to see if my brain was still functioning. I wasn't brain dead, but they discovered I'd had a stroke. Four days went by until I awoke from the coma, nine days until I left the Intensive Care Unit, and eleven days until I left the hospital. An infection of the fluid surrounding my brain and spine left me with impaired speech and coordination that would take the next three years to fully overcome.
Fast forward four years.
I was curious, had anyone ever pedaled a bike all the way across the country? Google quickly answered yes, and after learning all about bicycle touring, I was overcome with a desire to do it myself. Months went by with visions of a cross country bike ride dancing through my head.
On August 9th, 2012 I was finishing a 14 mile run, daydreaming of this epic ride, when a mental light bulb suddenly flicked on. Everything clicked. The reaction of disbelief my friends had at mention of attempting such a ride, my recovery story tied in so close with Phoenix Children's Hospital, and the funds my little sister had raised with her yearly walks for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I could attempt a mega fundraiser for Phoenix Children's Hospital by riding a bicycle across the country. I knew I had to do it, and that morning, I fully committed to pedaling across the country on a bicycle.
I spent the next nine months building a fundraiser and planning for this cross country bike ride. It was an obsession. I convinced my younger brother to come along, named my cause “Pedaling With Purpose,” a friend designed a logo, we bought bikes, bought gear, trained, met with the hospital foundation, shot a promo video, had a website built, emailed everyone we knew, got in the newspaper, and interviewed on all the local news stations. Zazzle donated custom shirts, LL Bean gave rain jackets and water bottles, Sticker Mule printed custom stickers, GoPro sent a camera, and Impact Printing printed business cards free of charge. The momentum just kept growing.
On May 17th, 2013 my brother Reid and I dipped our bicycle wheels in the Atlantic Ocean and began pedaling west. Starting in Virginia Beach, VA and ending 76 days later in Astoria, OR, we crossed ten states, meeting hundreds of incredible people, and rewriting our entire perspectives on life itself.
I blogged every day of the trip. Paragraphs, photographs, and musings of the country we encountered.
Upon our return we were heavily featured in local media (tv, radio, newspaper) and the hospital mailed out a letter from me asking for donations. When all the dusk settled, we had raised $96,832 for Phoenix Children's Hospital.
I realized I had the power to make a real difference in the world. I would never be the same.