Barrington resident, 70, sets out on 2,000-mile bike ride
Barrington resident Bob Lee, 70, and his wife, Anna, celebrate with friends and family Sunday before Lee set out on a 2,000-mile bike ride for charity. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:20PM
BARRINGTON — Supporters from the Barrington area and beyond biked with 70-year-old Barrington resident Bob Lee one last time Sept. 2 before unofficially sending him off on his charitable cross-country bike ride.
Lee’s 2,000-mile journey from Vancouver, Canada, down to Mexico began Sept. 5, but a fleet of friends, family and community members organized a local warm-up ride from Station Middle School to Wool Street Grill and Sports Bar in downtown Barrington. The group shared stories and ice cream, then signed Lee’s Ride for 3 Reasons banner.
The event was held as a symbol of the community’s long-standing support for Lee’s Ride for 3 Reasons, which is a long-distance bike ride Lee began in 2001 to raise awareness and fund research for cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and end of life planning through the National Hospice Foundation of Northeastern Illinois.
A colon cancer survivor himself, Lee choked back tears as he told the crowd about what motivates him to bike thousands of miles.
“It all began 12 years ago with a little question that came into my head of ‘what can I do?’” Lee said. “I would never have believed that it could grow into something like this.
“To see so many generations come to together like this is really heartwarming.”
When Lee and his bike officially hit the pavement last week, he carried the memory and spirit of his late friend Rich Crane, who died of ALS in 2002. Because Crane was a strong supporter of Lee’s first ride, his wife Lisa Crane gave Lee a locket with Rich’s ashes in it so that he would have some spiritual support on his long journey.
North Barrington resident Paul Launer attended the moving send-off with his wife Kris and two daughters, Aubrey and Sarah.
Launer was diagnosed in June of last year with ALS, which also is known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He came out Sunday to show his support for Lee’s 2,000-mile bike ride that will span the west coast.
“He is extraordinary. I think of Bob as a hero, and I’ve tried to help him in every way I can,” said Launer, adding that he has been trying to help Lee add more corporate sponsorships.
Lee will finish the 12,000-mile bike ride he began almost 12 years ago by the end of October or the beginning of November.
His last ride raised an impressive $390,000, but Lee is hoping to triple that amount this year with “pacesetter” donors who have pledged to match every dollar donated with two more.
So far, $447,310 has been raised to support Lee’s mission.