TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – It’s nearly 3,000 miles from San Francisco, California to Yorktown, Virginia. Coast to coast, it’s a trip Johnson City resident Mark Bodo is willing to bike to raise money for COVID-19 relief.
Bodo is no cyclist by his own estimation, but is embarking on the cross-country journey to raise awareness.
As of Monday, he is 40 days into the journey, and still has nearly a thousand miles left to go.
“If I can get on a bike and ride from San Francisco to Yorktown, Virginia all on my own, then we as as country can overcome the challenge of coronavirus and any challenge that is put upon us,” says the ETSU College of Nursing IT manager.
Bodo started his organization “Ride Aid 2020” in May and set up a website and a GoFundMe page, hoping his pilgrimage will encourage people to reach into their pocketbooks.
“I’ve met a lot of families who have been displaced because they lost their jobs, they’re now just traveling. They are like, ‘We are going to see the country, we have time. We are collecting unemployment right now, and are trying to figure out what we are going to do next,’” says Bodo.
His goal is to raise $100,000 dollars for organizations he says are dealing first-hand with the fallout of the pandemic. Those are Feeding America, Mercy Housing, the ASPCA and the Sidewalk Angels Foundation.
Traveling across the country, it is like following a map of the pandemic’s toll.
“Hotels have closed, restaurants have closed, businesses have closed because they have relied on tourism dollars and that tourism is not there,” says Bodo.
With his journey, it is a physical, emotional and spiritual uphill climb. But Mark Bodo has no plans of stopping. If not for COVID-19 relief, for the lessons he has learned along the way.
“I have seen a lot of what I call “lights” in the darkness,” says Bodo.
An example of that light for Bodo came near Milford, Utah.
He was on the tail end of a difficult ride: 83 miles through the desert with no shade in the 103 degree heat by mid-morning.
Heat exhaustion had Bodo thinking he was in trouble as he crested the summit of his ride.
He says he prayed for shade and was shocked to see a tree on the other side of the hill. Next to it was an abandoned house with, shockingly, a running hose of cold water. Bodo cooled himself down and cooled off his hot drinks. Then he continued the brutal ride.
He prayed again for a chance to find a cold beverage. He says when he arrived at his hotel for the night, the first man he came across offered him an ice-cold beer.
Bodo is also keeping his journey fun by posting daily video updates on Instagram, including some dancing videos to celebrate his biggest accomplishments.
The novice-cycler hopes to complete his 60 day journey by August 29th, when he is scheduled to arrive in Yorktown. He plans to ride through the Tri-Cities region on August 21st, through Gate City, Abingdon, and Wytheville, Virginia.
He hopes to complete more rides in the future to continue to raise money and awareness for organizations who need it.
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