Pedal for Alzheimer’s Cycling Dads
East Tennessee Entrepreneur Dads Cycle for Alzheimer’s
Six Dads Pedal 1,098 Miles in 11 Days to Honor Pat Summitt and Raise Funds
3:00 a.m. 4:00 a.m. 5:00 a.m. Those are normal alarm clock times for the six dads from East Tennessee who are preparing for the 11-day, 1,098-mile charity bike ride, Pedal for Alzheimer’s.
None are full time cyclists; they are all entrepreneurs, they manage their families, business, training, fundraising, and each have a reason for pedaling for Alzheimer’s.
By the time the sun is rising and the rest of the world begins to awake, Brandon Bruce, Josh Crisp, Joe Graves, Matt Padgett, Chris West, and Jonathan Williams have had a cup of coffee, pedaled dozens of miles and are already back home showering, eating breakfast, and preparing for the work day.
And that’s only the beginning of a training day.
“Life doesn’t stop just because you’re going to go do something awesome like (Pedal for Alzheimer’s)…the schedule is just that (much) more important,” Matt Padgett said. “You have to do the things on your calendar when you’re supposed to do them and (you) just do as you say you’re gonna do.”
The 1,098-mile Pedal for Alzheimer’s charity ride adds one more piece to the already complicated puzzle, combing work life, family life and spiritual life with an intensive training schedule to be physically, emotionally and mentally ready for eleven back-to-back days in the saddle.
Crisp, who has a nine-year-old son Joel, six-year-old son Judah and four-year-old daughter Lyla, Founder and President of Solinity, and Co-Founder of Pedal for Alzheimer’s, Ltd. reflects on his training, “The hardest part of training on the weekends is leaving my blonde-haired baby girl who looks up and says, ‘Daddy, can I ride bikes with you today?’ I know she doesn’t understand now, but I’m hopeful she will find a passion like I have and work hard at whatever it is.”
Each of the cyclists, at one point or another, has wondered if the commitment to the event is worth the sacrifice.
“It’s more than just work and training; it’s the whole physical, emotional, spiritual balance and then you couple that with family life, work life, being a dad, being a husband, being involved in everything I’m involved in…,” Crisp said. “It’s really easy to make up excuses as to why you don’t have balance, but at the end of the day, we’re all kind of given the same 24 hours.”
To make the most of the 24 hours in a day, Crisp evaluates his use of time and cuts out what he calls “mindless consumption” to make the most of each day.
“I started getting up at on average at 4 a.m. and using that time that I would have been mindlessly consuming information and I put that into positive energy in training,” Crisp said.
Matt Padgett, Founder of Keystone Mortgage, also tries to spend his time purposefully by being fully present when spending time with family, clients, friends and while training.
“I have a family. I have a business. But they aren’t operating at 3 a.m.,” Padgett says as he reflects on his favorite training quote, “Champions are made in solitude.” He says he hopes his sons, 2-year-old Bram and 5-year-old Greyson, will one day know that there is nothing that can’t be done if they put their minds to it. “Even if they don’t meet their goal, there is so much to learn through the process.”
While training for this year’s Pedal for Alzheimer’s ride has been the focus for many of the cyclists, the dads are hoping their children are also learning lessons from the process.
While watching his kids grow up together, Brandon Bruce, Founder of software company Cirrus Insight, said the most fun part of the past year has been watching his children, 8-year-old Sonoma and 6-year-old Carson, start to ride their bikes.
“The proudest part is seeing them ride together,” Bruce said. “I remember all the adventures my brother and I had once we both got on our bikes and it’s that first real taste of freedom…imagining some of the adventures they’ll go on together is exciting”
Along with riding their bikes, Bruce proudly knows that his kids are capable of accomplishing goals because of their athleticism and strength.
“It’s just a question of what goals are they going to set,” Bruce said. “And then once they do, they’re probably going to remember the stuff that I’ve done, the stuff that their mom has done, and then say ‘okay, cool, we’ll just do it!’”
Tennessee native and cyclist, Chris West, who is the father to 12-year-old Trevor, 17-year-old Brady, 22-year-old Zachary and 25-year-old Caitlin, said he hopes his training and participation in physical fitness-focused charity events like Pedal for Alzheimer’s will help stress the importance of health.
“I’m definitely not in the best shape I could be in, but I hope my kids see that keeping physically fit and healthy is a strong portion of this as well,” West said. “I hope they see that helping others…is something that really drives me on this.”
Dr. Joe Graves, Pediatric Ear Nose and Throat surgeon, smiles talking about his adult children, says he has used cycling and training for the ride to keep a balance.
“Cycling, for me, provides part of that balance in life that allows me to stay focused on the things that are most important. It’s really been like a therapy for me,” Graves said. “It’s something that is part of my life. I’ve always had an active lifestyle, I’ve always been an athlete and cycling is something you can do your entire life and it works for me.”
So why are these dads balancing it all? Training continuously, fundraising and spreading awareness about Alzheimer’s on top of their normal daily responsibilities?
“I think so many times, people don’t live a life of purpose,” Padgett said. “If you use all of your time purposefully, then you can actually have a purpose for why you’re doing something, then I think you can get a lot more accomplished.”
Bruce is riding in memory of his great, great aunt Lillian who had Alzheimer’s.
“She was a talented artist famous for her ducks and her raindrops,” Bruce said. “I still remember when she taught me and my brother how to paint a raindrop when we were little. Every time we saw her, she talked about how grateful she was. I will always remember her example of a life well lived.”
This ride gives him a chance to tell her story. And ride for others who are facing Alzheimer’s.
Prior to Crisp’s bike training, Joel, Judah and Lyla didn’t show much interest in riding a bike for fear of falling. Now, they’re not afraid to fall.
“It tells me they want to mimic me which is further evidence that they’re always watching and they want to be taught and they want to learn and they want to mimic the leaders in their lives,” Crisp said. “It’s an extra accountability to me to know that they’re watching and they’re wanting to mimic the things I’m doing. They are my blessings and I hope this event is just one example they can follow.”
This team of cycling dads, along with three other cyclists, set off on Oct. 7 with a 65-mile loop ride in Knoxville, Tennessee then will begin the next ten days pedaling into the Great Smoky Mountains to North and South Carolina, riding down the Georgia and Florida coasts, finally arriving in Daytona Beach, Florida on Oct.17.
With just weeks until the start of the ride, Padgett is focusing on the journey and not just the outcome.
“This is not just 11 days with cool people for a great cause. This is everything going in to it to build the confidence and the mental stamina and the physical stamina,” Padgett said. “Anything in life worth doing is not easy. And for those people who think it is, they unfortunately won’t be able to reap the huge rewards.”
So with each morning at 3:00AM, 4:00AM, and 5:00AM as alarms begin sounding and helmets go on, the Pedal for Alzheimer’s dads are preparing for another day of training, another opportunity to hug their children and wives, another chance to impact someone in their businesses, and it is one more day to make a difference for those with Alzheimer’s disease.
ABOUT PEDAL FOR ALZHEIMER’S
Pedal for Alzheimer’s, LTD. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable platform committed to organizing cycling events to raise money, provide education and increase awareness surrounding the mission of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. The Pedal for Alzheimer’s organization was co-founded in 2017 by Josh Crisp and Michelle Brooke-Marciniak. Crisp is the founder of Pedal for Pat, a 1,098-mile cycling event created for to honor the legacy of the late University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt who died of Alzheimer’s in 2016. Crisp founded Pedal for Pat out of a desire to extend the legendary Summitt’s platform by raising awareness and donations for The Pat Summitt Foundation and The Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Pedal for Alzheimer’s is a charitable organization overseen by board members, including Michelle Brooke-Marciniak, Josh Crisp, Sally Jenkins, Jenny Moshak and Dr. Kevin Sprouse.
This article was written by Kylie Hubbard & Sara Mitchell of Solinity.
Cyclists’ kits powered by Hincapie Sportswear.