While most of us plan on spending summer 2012 kicking back at the pool or relaxing on the beach, Gene Connor has something else in mind that’s a bit more unique. The teacher plans on biking across the nation in order to raise money for children with cancer at Sunrise Day Camp.
Connor, who lives in Northport, has been working at high school as the drama/musical theater teacher for 15 years. For the past two summers, he has also been working at Sunrise Day Camp, a summer camp in Wheatley Heights for children with cancer. Sunrise is the nation’s only day camp that allows children with cancer to experience the fun of summer camp, along with their siblings, free of charge.
Connor’s goal is to ride his bike from San Diego, Calif., all the way to Wheatley Heights. He chose a route that was mapped out by the American Cycling Association; he anticipates the trip will take 64 days. He hopes to raise at least $50,000 for Sunrise Day Camp along the way by spreading the word about the camp and its efforts to help children with cancer.
Completing such a trip is no easy feat. Connor has been planning his expedition for nearly six years, and still has much to do before he can depart on his journey. The cyclist bikes to work and home every day and puts himself through intensive training.
The trip will be quite costly, and whatever money Connor doesn’t obtain through fundraising will come out of his own bank account. Already he’s purchased rain gear for himself, along with some other necessary equipment. He repairs old bicycles in his spare time and sells them to earn funds for Sunrise Day Camp.
“My sponsors have been very generous,” Connor said. “One woman is providing me with all the sunblock I’ll need. Even the little things like that are important.”
The motivation behind Connor’s fight against cancer stems from his personal life.
“Within the short span of a few months, several of my family members were all diagnosed with cancer,” Connor explained. “It’s a disease that touches almost everyone.”
This is why Connor, along with the support of his family and community members, is trying to make a difference.
Want to make a donation? Check out Connor’s official charity site, http://www.ConnorsArmy.org, where you can find out more about his trip and even see video clips as he’s traveling on the road. Don't forget to like Connor's Army on Facebook!