Jeff Krakoff and a group of friends play in a weekly soccer league for men over the age of 50, and have committed to remaining healthy and active.
On Oct. 18, Krakoff and four others will combine that mindset with a desire to help others when they embark on a one-day, 100-mile bike ride along the Allegheny Passage from Rockwood, Pa. to the Point in Downtown Pittsburgh to raise money and awareness for the Arthritis Foundation.
“We think we’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment when we finish,” said Krakoff, 50, president of Krakoff Communications in Carnegie. “Anyone can make a difference once you find your passion.”
The idea for the charity bike ride came about last year when a group of nine bike riders make the trek from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., riding 65-70 miles a day over five days through the mountains and valleys of Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
They received 112 donations and raised more than $6,000 over a two-week period for the Arthritis Foundation.
This year’s ride is being sponsored by Krakoff Communications, Inc. and Steelcoast Creative, whose founder Scott Bowlin of Mt. Lebanon will also be participating. The other riders are Vic Walczak of Upper St. Clair, who is legal director of the ACLU of Western Pennsylvania; Pete Chiste of Peters Township, who works for PNC Bank; and Craig Hoffman of Bethel Park.
The group has christened this year’s journey the RiverRide100, because of the distance and the fact that they will follow the Casselman, Youghiogheny and Monongahela rivers to the confluence where the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers join to form the Ohio.
They have set a goal to raise $10,000 and are soliciting donations through a website, www.riverride100.com, social media and reaching out to friends and family directly. Donors can choose a specific rider to support by clicking the “donate” tab on the group’s website. Donors can receive a limited edition t-shirt or poster, depending on their donation level.
“It has become an internal competition among all of us to see who can raise the most money,” Bowlin said.
Krakoff was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis two decades ago, and rider Chiste, 56, has osteoarthritis in his knee. Both say the training they are undergoing for the bike ride has benefitted them physically and emotionally.
“As active as we all are, arthritis is bound to be a part of all of our lives at some point,” Krakoff said.
The Arthritis Foundation is committed to raising awareness and reducing the impact of arthritis, which strikes one in every five adults and 300,000 children, and is the nation’s leading cause of disability in the United States.
Beth Brown, vice president of the Arthritis Foundation of Western Pennsylvania, said the nonprofit doesn’t spend money to market or advertise their cause, so to have a group come forward and offer to not only stage a charitable bike ride but also do the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing and publicity is priceless.
“To have them take this on for our benefit, and the benefit of all those who have this disease, is huge to us,” Brown said. “The awareness side is just as important as raising money, because we still have parents coming to us saying they were shocked that their child was diagnosed with Arthritis, because they didn’t know it was possible for kids.
“It’s not just your 85-year-old grandmother who is susceptible to Arthritis. It can strike anyone, at any age.”
For more information or to donate, visit www.riverride100.com. Or mail checks made out to “Arthritis Foundation, Western PA” to Arthritis Foundation, 790 Holiday Drive, Foster Plaza #11, Pittsburgh, PA 15220. Credit card donations can also be made over the phone by contacting Beth Brown, vice president of the Arthritis Foundation, at (412) 250-3341.