By Stephanie Crowley
What did you accomplish this summer? While many limited their goals in these crazy times, a group of Morristown teens took the opportunity to dream big.
Owen Genrich, Kieran Myers, David Stephens, Dylan Kratochvil and Luca Hadley love to bike and decided to challenge themselves with a four-day ride from Jackson Township, through the New Jersey Pine Barrens, to the lighthouse at Cape May.
Preparations for this 154-mile, mostly off-road trek included upgrading their equipment, figuring out distances of daily rides, and planning campsites and food and water requirements.
The boys, all rising seniors at Morristown High School, also realized their July adventure was a great way to support a cause that had to scale back because of COVID — Kids2Kids.
It’s a Morristown-based volunteer organization for kids, run by kids. The nonprofit’s mission is to help special needs children develop life skills, through leadership by young adult mentors.
All programs — which include swimming, Tae KwonDo, yoga, basketball, art, drama and golf — are grounded in basic skill development and peer relationships.
The under-served special needs community usually has a difficult time finding the right programs and the right price. Fundraising efforts like this ride enable K2K to offer programs to special needs families at minimal cost.
“I have been involved with K2K’s mentoring program and knew additional money would be beneficial for the program and the kids,” said Genrich.
Mackenzie May, a founding member of K2K and a key mentor, praised the cyclists’ efforts, which raised $2,050 in donations from relatives and other organizations.
“This is a wonderful example of how our mentors are so passionate about K2K’s mission, and going above and beyond to support our kids,” May said.
“After 15 years in operation, it is inspiring to see our efforts continue to grow and further develop our community. I want to thank these mentors on behalf of Kids2Kids for their continued dedication and above and beyond commitment.”
The boys’ trip started near Six Flags Safari Park, with a herd of gazelles sending them off on the first 50-mile leg of the journey.
“It was a little rough at first,” due to the rainy weather, said one of the riders. They soldiered on, despite numerous flat tires, along sandy tracks through the Pine Barrens.
Their route took them up hills, through unpopulated areas, and past military bases testing explosives. Along the way they explored abandoned trains, planes, and monuments, and assisted each other with bike maintenance and support.
Each boy took turns leading the pack, so the others could draft and save energy. Hadley assumed the lion’s share of this duty.
“All in all it was a great trip. Of course we learned a lot along the way,” said Stephens, who anticipates his friends will have plenty of material for their upcoming college essays.
“We definitely will plan another outing as soon as we can,” added Myers.