After 3,700 miles, dog attacks, and many, many hills, teacher Gene Connor rode into a cheering group of fans at Sunrise Day Camp Friday afternoon. Connor, leader of Connor's Army, a non-profit that raises money for children with cancer, rode his bike from San Diego to Sunrise Day Camp in two months to raise money for camp tuition.
"I feel so happy that I could finish it because there were days where I wanted to throw the bike down and say 'This is too hard, I can't do it.'" The many faces of individual campers he worked with, as well as the daily support of his wife and three children who accompanied him on the trip, that got him through and kept him going on the tough days.
"What Gene has done is really admirable," said Amy Pilott, a development associate at Sunrise Day Camp. "He's given us a lot of exposure and introduced us to so many people nationwide."
As of Connor's arrival, Pilott said he had raised over $10,000 for the camp, with the help of his daughter, Sarah, who rode alongside him for several hundred miles to raise funds. Pilott said the camp is still receiving donations thanks to Connor.
Before they began preparing for the start of school, the Connor family had a few thing to accomplish.
"One thing I missed was having homecooked meals," said Connor's wife, Amy, who made the family follow a "if you don't eat it at home, you don't eat it here" regimen on the road.. "Because everything in the midwest is fried and vegetables are boiled to within an inch of their life."
Amy said they were also looking forward to getting back into their own home and giving lots of attention to their cat to make sure she didn't feel abandoned.
Sunrise Day Camp will continue to accept donations for this cause. Connor said this isn't his last cycle for Sunrise and that he wants to plan shorter cycling events for others to join.