ELYRIA — Logging hundreds of miles on winding country roads in Ohio is the way more than a dozen Rotarians are raising money to ship medical supplies to Third World countries.
They rode off from Ely Square with a police escort more than four days ago on the 2013 Medical Equipment and Supplies Abroad Tour. By the time members of the Elyria Sunrise Rotary, Elyria Noon Rotary and others return to the town’s center sometime Thursday afternoon, they should have ridden more than 350 miles.
“We’re in Willard now,” said George Costaras, president of the Elyria Sunrise Rotary, speaking by phone Tuesday afternoon when the group stopped for lunch. “We were in Bucyrus Monday night and Tuesday morning. I think today will be a 70-mile day.”
Some will see the journey as too much riding to be fun, but it’s easy to make the trek when you have medical equipment to ship and $65,000 as a goal to raise.
“It’s a great week of riding and the fellowship between riders is great, but it’s about the money,” said veteran rider Mark Mathes, Rotarian and owner of Guardsman Furniture Pro. “We meet some nice people along the way, but we do this because of the cause and its importance. It’s not about the miles. It’s about meeting people and promoting MESA through other clubs.”
Mathes said he has been riding for more than 40 years and knows a lot of tricks to a good ride — endurance and a bike that’s comfortable and well-suited for the rider. But more importantly, a good ride just takes the persistence to get it done.
Costaras, 57, of Westlake, has been a Rotary member for 17 years, but this is his first year on the bike tour. The route will take riders through various cities where they will hit up several clubs in the Rotary District 6600 area for donations.
“We are constantly collecting the equipment all year round,” said Costaras, a podiatrist with the Elyria Foot Clinic. “It’s things as simple as wheelchairs, hospital beds to pacemakers and X-ray machines. It’s a lot of things we take for granted.”
Last year, tens of thousands were raised. This year, the hope is to exceed the $65,000 goal. There is already a warehouse full of equipment waiting to be shipped.
Other Elyria Rotary members are Kurt Anderson, who is a seasoned veteran rider and one of the founding members of the tour, Rick Dakters and Sam Speck.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.