Thanks for Graciously Giving

Happy Thanksgiving! 2020 has been a year nobody will forget, a year with many trials, tribulations and tests of the human spirit. Because of all the uncertainty, it humbles and amazes me even more that so many of you were able and willing to help me in my cause of raising money for kids’ cancer research through the Great Cycle Challenge. In all, $14,830,926 was raised nationwide for the cause, which took place in September (moved from June). My statistics are below my list of incredible donors, which I grouped so I could put in paragraph form. There are proud St. Albans Red Dragons that I put in other categories, some twice mentioned, and I’m hoping I didn’t overlook anyone. My most heartfelt, sincere thanks to ALL willing to contribute to this important cause! I am truly blessed with incredible friends, family, and neighbors! God Bless!  

Heroes who donated and have sadly departed since September: Pat Paxton and Uncle Al Taylor, both SAHS graduates, ’78 and ’66, respectively.

My friends and spouses of my Fallen Inspirations: Carrie (Cherry) Knapp & Hollis Claypool.

Family: Ruth & Alan Spradling, Lisa (Parsons) & Bruce Lawson, Cheryl (Barnes) & Bobby McClain, Kelli (Gillispie) and Eric Smith, Aaron Johnson, David & Robin Young, and at home: Myssy, Evan, Audrey & Claire Spradling.

Lakewood Pool Family: Michael & Rachel Ervin of Coal River Coffee Company, Coach Rex & Diana Thaxton, Robin & Guy Turturice.

Shelton College Review Writers Group (and guitar, riding partner): Larry and Jenny (Andrews) Ellis.

SA Hall of Fame and Library Board Committees: Dr. Randy and Randi Robinson, Mike Eakle, Dale Withrow.

Gateway Christian Church Family: Jennifer Hall, Bette Hilbert.

Epic Athletes: Bill Posey, Steve Vorholt.

Treasured UC Golden Eagles friends: John Carroll, Sandy Manou Rohr.

Gracious ladies and givers: Janie Kerrigan, Kemmeth Rivers Walker, Beth (Ethan) Clay.

Always Supportive Riverbend Neighbors: Art & Loraine Postelwaite, Leanne & Matt Holley, Barbara & Rodney Holley, Pam Billups, Bertha & T.H. Bellamy, Bud Newbrough, Tara & Craig Lane, Jim Carpenter, David & Robin Young.

SAHS Classmates and friends of my sister Kelly (’79) AND MINE: Tina Slavin Tape, Terri (Johnkoski) & Mark Phipps, Joe Armstrong, Derek & Anita Watson, Dana & Lisa Miller, Jimmy Gilmore, Dave DeCarlo, Susan (Keene) Bowling, Carrie McGrath McCormick.

Red Dragons (and SA teachers) before and after me: Doctor John Burdette, Lynn McGraw, Amy Duncan, Kim & Jason Rogers, Emma Hindman.

Parents of Classmates and Teammates: Susie Shope, Pam Billups, Richard Vincent.

Friends and fellow Red Dragons while I was in the building: Carin Miles, Jane Weiford Sneed, Karen Fulmer Cebular, Whitney & Scott Vincent.

Mighty St. Albans High Class of 1982 – Barry & Beth Thaxton, Ray & MaryBeth Epperly,Tim (Andy & Bruce) Moss, Eric & Becky Minsker, Pat & Lu Ann Austin, Stephanie “Robin” Shoemaker, Cindy Shope-Strock, Kelli (Hill) & John Kukura, Carla (Slack) VanWyck, Lisa (Sayre) Mollohan, Erica (Wilder) & John Boggess, Kelli & Eric Smith, Jennifer (Hawkins) & Daryl Smith, Diana (Lilly) & Mike Kitts.

3 anonymous donors.

Final Statistics

Total raised: $5,319.76, 1st in West Virginia (second year running), 102nd in United States. Goal was $3,000. Matched on match day: $308.74. Miles ridden: 777.7. Goal was 750. Rides in September: 27. Longest: 38.5. Shortest 20. Rides on flat-assed Hilton Head Island: 10. Rides over 30 miles: 12. Hours in the saddle: 57. Two-year GCC totals: 1,404 miles ridden, $8,330.39 raised.

Pedaler’s Prayer

Great Cycle ChallengeLast June I was humbled by the generosity of a great number of friends and family members who supported me financially and with continued encouragement in The Great Cycle Challenge. Nationally over $8 million was raised by some 15,000 riders for children’s cancer research, and personally, after riding a bicycle 603 miles for the month, we raised just over $3,000 – No. 1 in the state of West Virginia and in the top 230 in the nation!

Those totals came after more modest goals – 500 miles and $1,000 – were originally proposed. Because, after returning to work in March, I rode a total of only 62 miles in March, April and May in (lack of) preparation – no base from which to build upon. Ol’ friend Matt Mandeville shamed me into upping my mileage goal (putting his money where his mouth is), even though I was essentially starting from scratch and having to ride little chippy 14 to 20 milers initially while I got my legs, lungs and big arse in better shape. In truth, I had no idea what to expect concerning donations. My brother Barry Thaxton got it started – maybe the donations rolled in more heavily when it appeared I could actually exceed half my goal. LOL.

bike-in-b-n-wWhy did I do it? One, WE ARE BLESSED! How can I not do something? Two, eradicating all cancer is the true goal – my sister and three of my closest friends have been taken from us – but a child suffering and losing that battle is especially heart-wrenching and incomprehensible. We’ve seen that the fear and uncertainty involved in a child being diagnosed is beyond devastating. I pray this can help end that. We need hope! Three, I was gifted a worthy bike by a special person – Rich Harper, proprietor of John’s Cyclery. I feel I must continue to do what I can to pay his generosity forward. If you care to read that story, please click on:

This spring, I was able to ride 476 miles in March, April, and May – the last six on Hilton Head Island yesterday – and am prepared to attempt 188 miles a week to reach 750 for the month (800 would feel REALLY good). Optimistically, I set my fundraising goal where we left off last year – $3,000. To put the mileage in perspective, I flirted with these numbers 28 years ago (at 28-years-old), when Derek Watson got me hooked and we rode nearly every day – and were occasionally joined by fitness legends Rick Robinson and Dave Walker.

DrewUnfortunately, like everything else, due to Covid-19, The Great Cycle Challenge has been postponed until September. This creates a degree of uncertainty for my participation at that level. Myssy suggested better lights and 4:30 a.m. starts – not the worst idea safety-wise. I will keep you posted and with the help of health-purist Larry Ellis, keep pedaling over hill and dale with lofty goals, songs, and suspenseful tales in mind. Have a great summer!

Learn more at   Thanks for reading, A.S.




The “Why” of It

Great Cycle ChallengeAs of today, because of the generosity of many friends and family members, I have raised $1,174.63 of my $1,500 goal for Children’s Cancer Research. This month, I’m attempting to ride my road bicycle 650 miles in the Great Cycle Challenge, to fight children’s cancer. I surpassed 205 miles yesterday, and have yet to ride today. I am behind pace and afraid that goal may be unattainable. But the goodness of people is already apparent, and that’s the important issue. We all know someone touched by cancer.

It has been nearly three years since I posted “Immeasurable Kindness,” the story of Rich Harper, our local bicycle shop owner, giving me an incredible gift.

(or on this blog site in August, 2016)

bike-in-b-n-wSince that time I have released my second novel, The Lost Lantern (available on, and am coming down the home stretch of my third. Along with my wife, I’ve watch our three children continue to grow and amaze us, our son graduating high school with high honors. This spring, I returned to work as a substitute teacher, finishing the final ten weeks of the school year as a long-term sub at my own former junior high. Now I’m jumping into coaching basketball as well as an assistant there. We are currently in our 3-week practice period, adding to my daily fatigue.

As I re-read “Immeasurable Kindness,” I thought how can I NOT be doing something? I’m quietly cynical at times and see the bad in our world. Sometimes I wear blinders, while my wife constantly reaches out and helps those in need. But people have been so very good to me, God has been so very good to me, I have to do something to give back. Forcing myself into a little fitness at the same time is a win-win.

Thanks for reading, A.S.

© 2019