1,100 Miles to Fight Arthritis
Kelly Beerman raises awareness and funds with a long bike trek.
Kelly Beerman has always been active and fit from hiking, biking, swimming and other activities. But nine years ago, he experienced pain in his foot. Thinking it might be a fracture, he went to his doctor, who diagnosed him with gout. “That sort of blew me away, because I'm pretty healthy,” he says.
It wasn’t his first experience with a form of arthritis, however.
“My mom was crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. It was terribly debilitating for her and her lifestyle. That's where I really gained awareness, probably a couple decades ago, of how bad this affliction is,” he says.
Earlier this year, Kelly found himself between jobs and wanting to do something purposeful.
“I feel it's really important to give back more than what we've taken as a human in this world,” he says. “I do simple things throughout the year with friends, volunteering here and there, but I wanted to do something on a greater scale.”
He decided to combine this desire with his passion for cycling and ride from Bellingham, Washington, to San Francisco, California, to raise funds and awareness for the Arthritis Foundation.
“I've been bicycling a long time. I'm pretty physically fit and bicycling is just one of several activities that I do,” he says. “And the cool thing about biking is that it's fast enough to cover some distance and yet slow enough to get visibility from a lot of people. It was natural for me, and I just thought bicycling would offer more exposure to benefit the Arthritis Foundation.”
Cycling for a Cause
In April 2023, Kelly completed the ride, covering more than 1,100 miles and raising nearly $10,000 in donations.
Along the way, he met a lot of people and talked to them about the Foundation. “There were people who didn’t know about the Arthritis Foundation, but many of those people I talked to had arthritis or they knew someone who had arthritis or had a close family member that had arthritis,” he says.
The experience was challenging but gratifying. Weeks after completing the ride, Kelly sounds as if he wished it weren’t finished.
“I miss the ride. I miss the simplicity of it. I miss the connections with people,” he says. “Sure, there were difficulties of the ride — the rains and squalls while getting out of Washington for seven or eight days were torrential, and then the massive hills from mid-Oregon to California were huge challenges. But all that just dissipates when I start thinking about the magical interactions I had with people along the way.”
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