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Hundreds cycle for soldiers

Bike-a-thon mobilizes donations for troops overseas

Bike-a-thon mobilizes donations for troops overseas

July 15, 2007|By TAMELA BAKER

BIG POOL - Bicyclists swarmed the Western Maryland Rail Trail at Big Pool on Saturday, carrying supplies and good wishes for American troops overseas and getting a little exercise in return.

By noon, 400 to 500 had registered for a bike-a-thon to benefit Operation Shoebox, which sends shoe boxes or bags filled with toiletries and other needed items to the troops.

Organized by Randy and Arin Knotts of Clear Spring and their business associates, the bike-a-thon had collected between $50,000 and $75,000 in monetary donations, as well as enough supplies to fill between 2,500 and 3,000 boxes, Randy Knotts said. Their goal was 5,000 boxes, and Knotts said he was confident they would make it.

Someone even donated 48 Bose radios, valued at $168 each, Arin Knotts said.

A number of businesses had donated food for participants as well.

"The community support has been phenomenal," Randy Knotts said. "The cool thing about what we're doing is you don't have to support the war one way or another - it's for the troops."

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That's why many of the riders said they wanted to join in.

"I came out to support the (business) team and our heroes," said Tiffany Wivell of Carlisle, Pa. "We had a good time. It was flat - I can't complain about that."

Her husband, Shane, said he also wanted to support "our troops overseas." And Chad Wivell, Shane's brother, said the bike-a-thon was "a great way to support our troops and say thanks. It was a good time and exercise - and that always attracts me."

Derek Poe of Shippensburg, Pa., biked for half of the 12-mile trek, and ran the other six miles. "When I started biking, it was pretty rough," he said, but running had been a little easier.

Biking was a little rough for Nick Helman of Chambersburg, Pa., according to his wife, Diane, who registered participants. "His pedal fell off," she said. But he persevered anyway - although the Knotts' 7-year-old daughter finished before he did, she said.

Knotts, whose D.C. International business team promotes the health and beauty products of Quixtar Inc., said his business associates hope to sponsor 10 to 15 simultaneous bike-a-thons across the nation next year.

"What you see here is just the compilation of what a team can do," he said.

Arin Knotts said several people told her they want to get their churches and other groups involved next year. Still others had stopped by just to donate money to Operation Shoebox, she said.

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