Cross-country charity tour passes through Ironwood


Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

BRUCE SIENKOWSKI glides in to a rest stop along U.S. 2 in Ironwood Monday. Sienkowski is skating from Grand Rapids, Minn., to Sault Ste. Marie. He said it is the farthest he has ever skated and is his fourth trip with Sea to Sea to raise money and fight poverty.


Ironwood - On Monday, a group of bicyclists and one inline skater passed through Ironwood on U.S. 2 on their way to Ewen.

The group is part of the Sea to Sea cross-country cycling tour that in the past has stayed in Canada and gone around Lake Superior to the north, but this year wanted to travel around Lake Superior to the south, according to Ed Witvoet, tour consultant.

Witvoet said the Sea to Sea tour is the only cross-country tour fighting poverty. It began in Vancouver, British Columbia, on June 26 and will stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Aug. 29.

The riders pay a $500 registration fee and are tasked to raise $3,000 per week for the 10-week ride. Witvoet said this year's group has raised $1.5 million to fight poverty and, all told, the group in its five rides has raised $7 million.

A total of 151 cyclists and one inline skater are doing their part to end poverty, in conjunction with World Renew and Partners Worldwide which, according to Witvoe, are Christian charities that want to lift individuals and communities out of the cycle of poverty.

Fifty-two of the riders are making the entire trip, from sea to sea. The other riders not making the entire trip sign up for different legs that last anywhere from one to four weeks.

The leg that passed through Ironwood on Monday started in Grand Falls, Minn., and ends in Sault Ste Marie.

On Monday morning, the group set out from Ashland and was not stopping until it arrived in Ewen. From Ewen, they will ride to Marquette and from Marquette to Sault Ste. Marie.

The group rides Mondays through Saturdays and takes a day of rest on Sundays. They set up rest stops every 18 to 20 miles for the riders to relax, drink water and catch a bite to eat, according to Witvoet.

When asked how many calories the riders burn every day, Witvoet was unsure, but he said they burn and eat a lot every day.

Sharon and Larry Stehouwer and their two sons, Eric and John - all from Kalamazoo - started with the group in Vancouver and are riding all the way to Halifax to fight hunger. The Stehouwers turned the fund-raising effort into a summer trip and were enjoying themselves on the ride.

Sue Sridsma, making her fifth trip with Sea to Sea, said it is a good crowd to ride with, although she was only doing the leg from Grand Rapids to Sault Ste. Marie.

Bruce Sienkowski is making his fourth trip with the group, but he travels on inline skates. Sienkowski has skated across Iowa, from Iowa to Michigan, and a 400-mile loop in Ontario in the past. Sienkowski said this trip with Sea to Sea is his longest to date.

The funds raised by the riding groups are given to nonprofits along the route in riders' hometowns and globally through World Renew and Partners Worldwide.


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