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Cyclist rides for kids' sakes

September 08, 1997

By JENNYLYNN BROWN

Staff Writer

BOONSBORO - The Little Engine That Could gained confidence and reached its destination with positive thoughts.

Ellen Savoy's transportation is different, but just like that engine - she thinks she can.

Today, Savoy starts a 400-mile bike trip from Grantsville, Md., to Ocean City, Md., for the OutSpokin' for Maryland's Kids Project.

As program coordinator for treatment foster care at San Mar Children's Home, Inc., Savoy, 45, interviews children, meets families and arranges pre-placement visits.

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"We work with kids who are convinced that they just can't do things in life. They're more focused on what they can't do," Executive Director Bruce T. Anderson said.

He said Savoy's message is to reach for what seems impossible - and some of San Mar's children are picking up on it.

"I think her greatest moment will be riding into San Mar after 100 miles of mountains. We will be here at the bull roast to celebrate," Anderson said.

Biking from Grantsville, nine cyclists are expected at San Mar around 5 p.m. today.

From San Mar, the group will cycle to Catonsville, Md., Crownsville, Md., and Salisbury, Md., ending Sept. 12 in Ocean City.

The Maryland Association of Resources for Families and Youth sponsors the ride, which helps raise money for Maryland's group homes.

Today's Bull Roast and Open House at 8504 Mapleville Rd. is a San Mar fund-raiser. Tickets for the 5 to 7 p.m. meal are two for $25, one for $15 and $5 for children under 10.

Savoy, who lives on Outer Drive in Hagerstown, had been a spectator of the event for years, said Anderson, 45.

"I told her, `Now you're riding for all other people who have things in their lives that they think they can't do,'" he said.

What motivated Savoy to become an athlete?

A doctor's report.

At 43, her cholesterol and blood pressure were getting high - almost high enough to require medication, she said.

"I got serious about making changes. I give the Lord the credit for those changes in eating and exercising," Savoy said.

She lost 40 pounds.

"As I started seeing success in weight loss and biking, I said, `I can do this if I decide to do this,' but I had a whole lot of fear."

To get over that fear, she signed up for RAGBRAI, the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, held July 20-27 with 15,000 other bikers participating.

"We did 500 miles in seven days. It started with back wheel in the Missouri River and ended with the front wheel in the Mississippi River."

Decked out in her red, white, yellow and black jersey, black cycling shorts, helmet, gloves and biking shoes atop a borrowed 21-speed Allez bike, Savoy is prepared to go to the finish again, riding this time for the children.

"Young people, and adults as well, seem to lack commitment and follow-through and look for immediate gratification - what feels good now. If I would have kept that mind set, I couldn't have accomplished what I wanted to do," she said.

Savoy wants the same feeling she had finishing the Iowa ride - "the pride knowing I completed it ... and then I'll be ready to set another goal."

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