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Boonsboro children's home benefits from serious pedal power

C&O Canal towpath bicycle ride raises money for San Mar

C&O Canal towpath bicycle ride raises money for San Mar

July 14, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

WILLIAMSPORT - After pedaling more than 50 miles on the C&O Canal towpath since 8 a.m., 13-year-old Stephanie Spurrier was beyond ready to set down her kickstand for the night at a campground in Williamsport on Sunday.

"I'm dead, I'm sore and I'm tired, but it feels good," she said as she waited for a shuttle to the campsite.

Spurrier, of Mount Airy, Md., is one of 105 people participating in a four-day C&O Canal bicycle tour to benefit San Mar Children's Home in Boonsboro. Riders began the 184-mile trip Saturday at the canal's northern end in Cumberland, Md., and plan to arrive at its southern end in Georgetown on Tuesday.

Along the way, local service groups pitch in to help the group with meals and snacks, San Mar Director Bruce Anderson said. The Hancock Lions Club served the riders at a rest stop in Hancock Sunday and the Hagerstown Lions Club served the riders lunch at McCoys Ferry Campground, Anderson said. The group was scheduled to eat dinner at Richardson's Restaurant in Williamsport and camp at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Campground.

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Today, the Boonsboro Lions Club has volunteered to serve the riders at a rest stop and a lunch stop, Anderson said.

"This is the best-supported ride I have ever been on," said Jennifer Boteler, 48, of Alexandria, Va. "All you have to do is have your bike and your helmet and your water bottle."

Event staff transport the rest of the riders' gear from campsite to campsite, she said.

For riders in an exclusive fundraising group called the "Golden Retriever Plan," the accommodations extend even further. Those riders, who each raised more than $2,000, are treated to luxuries such as hotel accommodations and a free massage by certified sports massage therapists each night.

Participant Jeff Kelley, 40, of Hagerstown, raised about $2,200, but opted to camp rather than stay in a hotel. Still, staff rolled out the camping equivalent of a red carpet.

"My tent was set up for me when I got here," he said.

Raising money for the ride was easy when Kelley directed his friends and colleagues to San Mar's Web site, he said.

San Mar operates four group homes for teenage girls and a treatment foster-care program for girls and boys of all ages. The organization's mission is to provide structure, nurturance, opportunity and hope to the children, many of whom have been abused or exploited before coming to San Mar, according to Director of Development Daniel Day.

"I'm very impressed with what they do down there with these girls," said Kelley, who has relatives who have served as foster parents for San Mar.

One of the highlights of the bike tour is being dropped off back at the San Mar site in Boonsboro where participants leave their cars, Kelley said. There, girls from San Mar's group homes welcome the riders back and thank them for their support.

"That's really nice to see," Kelley said.

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