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Cross country bike trip inspired by 9/11 heroes

Jeff Munson
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Don Boehly, right, poses with South Lake Tahoe Fire Department members, from left, Ed Roe, firefighter, Captain John Hartzell and firefighters Jim Drennan and Scott Smith.
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Traveling across the country by bicycle is a feat in itself – many try, but few succeed.

But to set out and bike all 50 states with the intention of visiting police and fire houses along the way to bring awareness to the widows and children of 9/11: That’s taking it to a different level.

For Don Boehly, a 49-year-old single handyman from Grayson, Ky., the journey began Sept. 1, 2003, and he hasn’t stopped since. His message is simple: There are legitimate organizations that exist where people can contribute to help families of the victims.



And if you go to his Web site and decide to make a donation to one of the organizations, then his trip will be a success. Boehly does not take private donations.

“I believe what I’m doing is my calling,” Boehly said recently, during stops in South Lake Tahoe and Stateline.



The idea of biking all 50 states came to him after visiting New York City in 2002 with a money order for $244 he had raised to give to the NYC Police Benevolence Association. The money was to be earmarked for widows and children whose husbands and fathers lost their lives on 9/11.

After the initial bike tour to New York from Kentucky, Boehly said he wanted to do something for the firefighters of 9/11 who lost their lives. And so, he decided to take it a step further.

“I got the idea after my second trip to New York. I thought, why not bike all 50 states to raise awareness that there are families and widows and good organizations where people can donate to,” he said. In case people are skeptical about what he’s doing, he has a DVD and letters signed by NYPD and NYFD and the police and fire associations to back up his claim.

In all, the trip will be roughly 25,000 miles, with an expected completion date of Sept. 11, 2007, in New York City. So far he’s cycled from Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, George, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada, logging about 5,200 miles. He has gone through 12 bicycle tubes and five bicycle tires and a few near misses on the road.

Friends who track Boehly’s progress often call fire and police houses ahead of time, asking chiefs if Boehly can take a hot shower, eat a meal and bed down in the station for the night.

He has been welcomed everywhere he’s gone, he says.

Coming up from Twin Bridges last week, Boehly was not only overcome by the famed blue lake, but also a minor case of dehydration – something that hasn’t happened before and hopefully won’t happen again.

Lake Valley Fire Protection District paramedic Justin Child not only treated Boehly but spoke with him and was impressed by what he was doing.

“He is raising awareness and keeping the memories alive. A lot of firefighters died in that tragedy, and it’s good he is out letting people know,” Child said.

Taking a few days off to recover from dehydration, Boehly stayed at the firehouse at Lake Valley Fire Protection District and the South Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District and at the Motel 6, which picked up the tab.

Leaving Tahoe, Boehly was equipped with bottles of Gatorade, fruit and sandwiches. He said the company of the firefighters and their generosity was appreciated.

“It’s a great, friendly place,” he said.


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