Recreational sports director bikes cross- country for charity

Jim Ray keeps journal of his ride from San Diego to Florida to raise money for Special Olympics | April 14, 2004

Jim Ray, director of recreational sports, is celebrating his 50th birthday by biking 3,166 miles across the southern United States in May. His birthday bonus will be the $25,000 or so he'll raise for his ride. All the money, he says, is going to charity.

Ray left San Diego on Saturday, May 1, on a trip that will take him and his bike across eight states over 27 days to raise funds for Hamilton County Special Olympics athletes. He expects to pull up at the beach in St. Augustine, Fla., on May 28.

Ray anticipates riding 100 miles a day from California through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and into Florida. His wife, Donna, is following him in the family car. She'll keep supplies and a second bicycle in the car as a backup in case of breakdowns.

Jim and Donna are making regular entries about their experiences in an online journal and a photo gallery. Additional photo galleries are accessible through the online journals.

Ray was moved to do the trip by work he has done with Special Olympics athletes. He has studied adaptive physical education and helped handicapped athletes learn to swim.

"I would like to raise money to help continue to provide opportunities for our local athletes. The money that I raise will give adults with mental and developmental disabilities the opportunity to participate in sports," Ray said. "Plus, I'm turning 50, and I wanted to do something that is mentally and physically challenging."

To reach his monetary goal, Ray is asking corporations and individuals for financial assistance and pledges by sponsoring him per mile or with a flat donation. Also, he is asking for in-kind donations such as supplies, bike repairs and tires, to help with the ride.

Hamilton County Special Olympics provides year-round training and competition for people with mental and development disabilities in 24 sporting events. The county's program must raise funds annually to provide programming for over 1,800 athletes.

For more information, contact Janet Smith at Hamilton County Special Olympics at 513 271-2606.