Bicyclist, Support Crew Stops In Altamont on 4,150-Mile Fundraiser Trip

By the time this paper hits newsstands on Monday, May 13, Bob Hood, Laura Ghosn, and Ron Calabrese will be in western Ohio, passing through Dayton. When the paper reaches subscriber mailboxes on Tuesday, May 14, the crew will be north of Columbus, heading for the shore of Lake Erie.

Maybe that’s not an impressive pace for your average roadtrip, but on a bicycle it’s no small feat.

In an effort to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Hood has been biking coast-to-coast with Ghosn and Calabrese’s support, speaking to community organizers, mayors, and businesspeople along his 4,150-mile, 83-day trip: the 3 Country Ride, from Tijuana, Mexico to St. Stephens, Canada.

Hood, the CEO of San Diego-based IT service SpotLink, had never undertaken such a long ride before the 3 Country Ride. Though he’s been a marathoner and tri-athlete, his longest bike trips before this were a few 100-mile bike trips some decades ago. The 3 Country Ride is his first fundraiser trip, coast-to-coast trip, and multi-day trip all rolled into one.

This unlikely cross-continental rider was spurred into action following breast cancer diagnoses among his loved ones—his mother-in-law, Rosemary Ghosn, and a close friend as well. His close circle’s multiple diagnoses aren’t uncommon nationwide: according to BreastCancer.org, one in eight American women will develop an invasive form of breast cancer during their lives, and men stand a one-in-883 risk as well. Among those women diagnosed with breast cancer, some 40,000 die yearly.

After a full year of training, Hood left his life in southern California to take to the road. Along the way, Ghosn and Calabrese follow him in a SpotLink van, warning motorists of Hood’s presence and filming his progress from time to time. Calabrese spends his days managing the Ride’s social media and internet presences, contacting organizers and towns along the road, speaking to the media, and occasionally biking alongside Hood; while Ghosn drives and monitors Hood’s safety.

The Ten MPH Perspective on Altamont

On the morning of Tuesday, May 7, Hood and his crew stopped at the Lutheran Care Center in Altamont for a conversation with Cheryl Hoffmeister and Emily Miller, president and vice president of Altamont’s Woo Hoo Sisterhood, a non-profit organization founded in memory of Jolene Arend. Hoffmeister describes Arend as a generous yet discreet giver—after Arend’s death following a long battle with breast cancer, Hoffmeister heard a number of stories from Altamont residents about how Arend had supported them quietly through their struggles.

In honor of Arend’s good work, the Woo Hoo Sisterhood was founded by friends and family. Since late 2008, the Sisterhood has supported area residents through hard times, from cancer battles to other illnesses to general financial strain. “We don’t have a specific cause [that we support exclusively],” says Hoffmeister. “We just look for a need.”

Each year, the Sisterhood donates as Arend did, generously yet discreetly, giving out cash donations and goods donations like gas cards and necessities. They average some $13,000-14,000 given yearly, and donated nearly $20,000 in 2018 according to Miller.

Before parting ways, the Woo Hoo Sisterhood gave the 3 Country Ride crew a check, to be donated in full to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Hood, waiting to get back on the bike and hit the road, spoke briefly about the crew’s travels through the country. “It’s been a wonderful experience meeting all these people,” he said. Calabrese added that “the ten MPH perspective on the country has been interesting.”

The crew was roughly halfway through their trip when they reached Altamont, having last stopped in Williamson two days previous. Before that, they’d visited major cities—Tucson, Ariz., Las Cruces, N.M., El Paso, Texas, Oklahoma City, and Jefferson City, Mo., to name a few—and small towns alike. Still remaining on the itinerary are Dayton, Ohio, Rochester, N.Y., and Belfast, Maine, among others.

Support the Riders

The 3 Country Ride crew is still collecting donations, 100 percent of which are given to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The BCRF is rated four stars (out of four) on CharityNavigator.org and is dedicated to funding research to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure breast cancer. Since 1993, the Foundation has raised over $569 million and now grants research funds to over 300 scientists and medical professionals.

To support the BCRF through 3 Country Ride, visit 3CountryRide.org and click the Donate link at the top center of the banner, or donate directly to the Foundation at BCRF.org. Additionally, follow Hood and his crew on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, all @3CountryRide, for daily updates on travel progress, Morning Mingles across the country, and photos of the crew in action.

The Woo Hoo Sisterhood meets on the first Monday of every month at The Gathering Place behind the Lutheran Care Center. They raise funds from donations, an annual golf outing, and food sales at the Wine and Music on the Lawn event at the Dr. Charles M. Wright House Museum. Those interested in working with the Sisterhood may contact any Sisterhood member, or may visit any meeting.

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