Texas has a hero in it and his name is Erik Richenberger.
For 13 years the Spring resident has helped saved lives as a paramedic and now he is racing to help others hear. He is particpating in the Tour Divide Race in efforts of raising awareness and funds so deaf people without insurance can receive cochlear implants.
“I learned about the race through a documentary called, “Ride the Divide.” A race of this proportion naturally touches the desire to seek adventure and do something grand with your life even if it is just once,” he said.
The Tour Divide Race, also known as “Riding the Roof,” is a mountain bike ride from Bannff, B.C. to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. After completion, Richenberger will have traveled down the spine of the Rocky Mountains, totaling 2,743 miles. He will have also climbed 220,000 feet of elevation.
“That’s like climbing Mount Everest seven times,” he said. “All in all, I will have touched three countries, five states and cross over the continental divide more than 30 times.”
He will begin his journey in Banff on June 15th and ride for three weeks. Out of curiosity, people usually ask the inspiring cyclist why he is taking upon such a great challenge. Richenberger admits he is doing this for a few selfish reasons.
“I like learning to push my limits, test my mind and body against the elements, and to see if it can be done,” he said. “But the primary reason I am doing this is to raise awareness of the resources available to families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing.”
With a goal of $25,000.00, all proceeds of the race will be donated to The Gift of Hearing Foundation. The organization provides resources and financial assistance to families with deaf or hard of hearing children. Funds can help through financial relief for cochlear implants, which can cost up to $100,000. According to Richenberger, TGHF negotiates the cost down to $8,000 to $10,000, and in some cases cover all expenses.
Richenberger was also inspired by his wife Marianne, who is a school teacher specializing in the same field with an emphasis on oral education.
“Marianne is the most committed teacher and person I've ever come across. She's literally one of those teachers who truly inspire her students to do great things in lift,” he said. “She is very passionate about her job, and I am truly passionate about supporting her.”
The Tour Divide is an avenue Richenberger said where tons of positive energy can be generated. Wanting everyone to take the 27/45 challenge, he is asking others to donate $0.01 a mile, totaling $27.25.
“If a thousand people donate, then we will have reached our goal and if they can donate more, that is awesome.”