Upper St. Clair resident organizes RiverRide100 to benefit Arthritis Foundation
When some of his friends came up with the idea in 2013 to pedal all the way to Washington, D.C., Jeff Krakoff was on board.
There was just one catch for the Upper St. Clair resident:
“I hadn’t ridden a bike at that point for like 25 years.”
Nevertheless, he bought a bicycle and joined the rest of the contingent to prepare for the 330-mile journey on the trails of the Great Allegheny Passage.
“The first day I went out with this group, I think we rode 12 miles. I thought I was going to die, because this was the first time,” Krakoff admitted. But he persevered. “Twelve miles became 15 became 20 became 30, and I started getting pretty good.”
He also started to notice that bicycling helped with his rheumatoid arthritis, the chronic inflammatory disorder with which he has been coping for two decades.
“I contacted the Arthritis Foundation and said, ‘How about if we make this a fundraiser, with all the proceeds going to you.’ They loved the idea,” he recalled. “So basically, two weeks before our ride, we started letting friends, relatives, people through work know we’re doing this.”
And so started RiverRide 100, so named when the biking group of nine decided on another trek for 2014, this time from Rockwood, 106 miles away in Somerset County, to Point State Park, along the Casselman, Youghiogheny and Monongahela rivers to the Ohio.
The event has generated more than $6,000 in each of the past three years for the benefit of the Atlanta-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention, control and cure of arthritis in the United States.
“The Arthritis Foundation told me it was the highest volunteer-generated fundraiser they’ve had in this region,” Krakoff said.
The 2016 edition of RiverRide 100 is on Aug. 20, and the founding cyclists plan to travel the same route once more. This year’s event, though, offers additional opportunities to help the cause.
“We want more people to get involved,” Krakoff said. “We’re challenging other people to pick an amount over the whole month of August, whether it’s 50 miles, 100 miles. You can make it less. Just get out and ride.”
Participants who choose to undertake their own rides of any distance can create their own fundraising web page, as an individual or team, through CrowdRise, which has served as RiverRide’s donation platform from the beginning, at www.crowdrise.com/2016RiverRide100.
“We’re trying to make people aware of arthritis,” Krakoff explained. “The latest stat is one in five adults has it, and the Arthritis Foundation tells me, locally, that number is more like one in four.”
Krakoff, a Castle Shannon native and Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate who owns a Carnegie-based communications firm, said the foundation has been highly supportive in promoting RiverRun 100, and level could rise.
“They’re looking for a bike ride to be a national event,” he said. “They do some walks and runs, but if you really think about it, if you have arthritis, running is horrible for your joints. Biking is really good for it. What I’ve found is, the more I move, the better I feel.”
For more information, visit riverride100.com.