Chuck Campbell of Poland is gearing up for a 21-day bike ride from his home to Pensacola, Fla., next month. This will be his first long distance trip that he is using to raise funds for Hospice of the Valley.
"This was my first item on a bucket list," Campbell said.
The actual circumstances that led to the trip go back in time. Along with his wife Carol, Campbell raised a good family. His daughter Carolyn Styranec went through school and got married. She followed her husband when he was transferred to Pensacola several years ago. That left Carol with the desire to go and visit her daughter and grandchildren, but it was a trip she never got to make.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Chuck Campbell of Poland is getting his 21-speed bike ready for a long trip to Pensacola, Fla., on May 3 for a worthy cause. He hopes to raise funds for Hospice of the Valley, as well as Hospice in Pensacola.
"My wife passed away on May 8, 2008," Campbell said. "She was upset when the grandkids moved with my daughter to Florida."
The Poland couple were married for 36 years when Carol passed away. Campbell said part of making this trip will be in her honor.
"I am taking her memory with me," he said.
Campbell used to be a runner. Some time ago he began looking for a way to get in a workout without the impact that running has on the feet and legs. That is when he got into biking.
He bought a Trek Model 7100, 21-speed bike that was custom fit to his legs and body. He said it is a lot different that buying a bike at a department store. The bike is actually set up for the rider and is thus more comfortable and easy to ride.
Campbell has been riding locally on bike trails, but has never done a great distance ride like this one before. He said it has already become a learning experience.
"I have learned a lot in the past few weeks about cycling," he said, "mostly about planning."
His intentions are to leave Poland on May 3 and arrive in Pensacola on May 27. He discovered an online site called warmshowers.org that can provide for a warm place to stay while on route.
"When you register at warmshowers.org, the only requirement is that you list your home as a place to stay for bicyclists traveling through Poland," Campbell said.
He will have a support team traveling with him at different legs of the journey. One friend, Jack Shetler from the Olde Stone Tavern is helping Campbell put his trip together and will be available for support.
"He calls me Chuck Campbell, alias Willy Make-it," Campbell said.
Also in preparation, Campbell has been working out at a gym in Boardman. He uses the stationary bikes when he can't ride outdoors due to weather.
Besides his wife's memory, Campbell will be carrying another piece of precious cargo with him on the trip. His granddaughter Jordan, 7, is taking part in a school project in Pensacola where a letter is sent to another part of the country and eventually returns to Florida. Campbell is going to personally carry that letter to his granddaughter.
Another thing Campbell will be taking is the knowledge he is making a difference for others. He said since his wife's passing, he has been supportive of Hospice of the Valley. He decided to use the ride as a way to raise money for the organization both in Mahoning County and for Covenant Hospice in Pensacola. He said he is a volunteer locally while his daughter is a volunteer in Florida.
"Hospice is something no one knows about until they need it," Campbell said. "When my daughter found out what I was up to, she decided to work her end of it."
For the ride, both father and daughter are asking for support in their own state. Campbell said to donate to the local Hospice, simply mail a check to Hospice of the Valley, 5190 Market St., Boardman, 44512 and write "The Ride" in the memo section.
"That way they can keep track of it," Campbell said.
He is hoping to raise a good amount to help the organization that once served his wife in her time of need.