On the road for United Way
Bright and early Monday morning, eight bicyclists pulled into the Tonganoxie headquarters of Williams Gas Pipeline, completing the first stretch of their United Way fund-raiser.
The eight were just beginning a 1,600-mile trip that would take them on two wheels from Kansas City's Union Station into Oklahoma, then from Monroe, La., to Indiana with a final stop in Owensboro, Ky.
Along the way, they will be following Williams pipeline routes and raising money for United Way organizations in those areas.
Williams, which United Way says is its biggest supporter, donated more than $27 million to United Way last year.
Rick Reischman and Bill Miller coordinated the Tonganoxie United Way bicycle team's visit Monday morning, greeting bikers with doughnuts and beverages. Most of the bikers were from Kentucky.
Jerry Hayden said he was glad to be able to see this part of Kansas.
"I'm impressed with the sunflowers along the roads," Hayden said, "Do they grow naturally or were they planted?"
Alan Free, who lives in Louisville, Ky., said this is the first year bicyclists in this south-central division of Williams have participated in the biking event.
Not all of those on the 1,600-mile route were biking enthusiasts until recently, said Hayden.
"Some of our people on this team didn't even buy a bicycle until May," Hayden said. "We all practiced all summer we just had a ball with it."
Free said team members put serious effort into practice sessions.
"We rode from 150 to 200 miles a week to prepare for this ride," he said.
Monday, the team planned to ride a total of 60 miles.
Accompanying the team for the first two days was Barbara Bellamy, human resource director for the Kansas City, Mo., United Way office.
"The teams are donating funds to each United Way organization along the Williams pipeline routes," Bellamy said.
Also in attendance in Tonganoxie Monday were Marianne Grodberg, United Way director for Leavenworth County, and Jo Bryant, of the Douglas County United Way.