class=""MsoNormal"">SALISBURY, MD---Sea Gull Century participants Joan Wharton and Bruce Cleland will be fulfilling very personal missions as they travel across 100 miles of Eastern Shore roads on October 8. Cleland’s daughter, Georgia, is a leukemia survivor. Wharton has just celebrated her two-year remission of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Both are using the Sea Gull Century, sponsored by Salisbury University, to raise funds for the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society.
class=""MsoNormal"">From a modest beginning in 1989 when 68 riders, most from the University’s bike club, took to the roads as a friendly challenge among cycling enthusiasts, the Sea Gull has earned a reputation as one of the premier centuries in the nation. An estimated 6,000 riders are expected for this year’s event.
class=""MsoNormal"">And along the way, cycling for charity has become a Sea Gull tradition. By 1994 organizers began using the Sea Gull to support local charitable causes, according to Jim Phillips, who coordinated the event for many years. “The committee decided to promote bicycle safety among children by distributing bike helmets to local third, fourth and fifth graders,” said Phillips. Since its inception the Helmets for Kids program has given away over 2,000 helmets to children throughout Wicomico County.
class=""MsoNormal"">An avid cyclist himself, Phillips witnessed firsthand how this program may have averted at least one tragedy. Out for an evening ride, Phillips came upon a girl of about 11 years old who had just fallen off her bike along the side of the road. “She was conscious but lying motionless under the roadside guardrail, saying she couldn’t move. My first thought was that she was paralyzed and, while waiting for the ambulance I noticed she was wearing one of our helmets,” said Phillips. The young girl was transported to PRMC where she regained full movement. “There is no doubt in my mind that her helmet protected her head and avoided a very serious injury,” said Phillips.
class=""MsoNormal"">Sea Gull Century riders have also been generous in helping to eliminate poverty housing in the Salisbury area by giving over $120,000 to the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. Executive director, Nancy Rubenson, said “this has enabled us to purchase all the building materials and lots for two houses for families in need. We are very grateful to the Sea Gull Century for making the dream of home ownership a reality for two deserving families.”
class=""MsoNormal"">Wharton and Cleland will be joined this at this year’s Sea Gull Century by more than 300 riders who are part of the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society‘s “Team in Training” program, a nationwide effort to raise funds for research to find cures for blood-related cancers. The program was founded by Cleland and has raised over $100 million since it began in 1988.
class=""MsoNormal"">This year’s Sea Gull, designated an official Team in Training event, is expected to raise about $400,000, according to Damian Magarelli, campaign manager for the Maryland chapter. According to Amy Waters, who directs a small army of campus staff and volunteers to put on the Sea Gull Century, the event is another part of the University’s community outreach efforts. “To know that we are not only showcasing the Lower Eastern Shore for such a large and diverse group of visitors but also helping to support worthy causes at a local, state and national level is very gratifying. It’s part of our vision of what a university should do,” said Waters.
>For more information call 410-548-2772 or visit the Sea Gull Century Web site at www.seagullcentury.org. "