Manzoni on a mission

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Charlie Manzoni, of Minnesota, poses at a marker for the Continental Divide in New Mexico during his cross-country cycling tour. Over 50 days, he plans to cycle from the Pacific to Atlantic Ocean to raise funds for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

(Photo submitted)

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Nearly two months of cycling have been years in the making for a man who is riding through Marysville on his cross-county fundraiser for pediatric cancer.

Charlie Manzoni, a 72-year-old Minnesota native, is attempting to ride over 3,400 miles from Los Angeles to Boston over the course of 50 days. Manzoni’s stop in Marysville on Sunday will mark the ninth state line he has crossed.

His efforts support The Great Cycle Challenge, which is sponsored by the Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF).

Although this is his first cross-country tour, the inspiration began in 2011 when his son, Nick, was being treated for a rare form of cancer called Ewing sarcoma.

Nick has now been cancer-free for more than seven years but he has stayed actively involved with CCRF. About six years ago, he started toying with the idea of riding coast-to-coast to raise funds for the organization.

The Great Cycle Challenge allows cyclists to set a mileage goal for the month of June and encourage others to pledge donations for every mile ridden. The event combines a cause Manzoni is passionate about – childhood cancer research – with an activity he loves – cycling.

“The beauty for me is – What better circumstance can you have than your fundraising event being the Great Cycle Challenge?” Manzoni said.

Manzoni is riding with a cross-country cycling group called Crossroads, which provides support for cyclists along the way. He is riding with about 15 others, many of whom are raising funds for causes close to their hearts.

Each day, the cyclists eat breakfast at 6 a.m. before beginning their route between 7 and 7:30 a.m. They have one to three rest stops throughout the day where Crossroads provides water and energy snacks. They typically arrive at their destination around 2-3 p.m. before eating dinner at 5 p.m. and heading to bed.

Manzoni said there have been many highlights since his journey began on May 11, although they’re both “positive and negative – just memorable.” These moments range from flat tires and broken cranks, to riding the shoulder of an interstate next to semi-trucks, to scenery along the Switchback Mountains in Arizona.

However, one of the most memorable parts for Manzoni has simply been his ability to participate in the ride. He said a typical day of cycling at home would be a 30 to 40 mile ride, but this tour has consisted of consecutive days of 80 to 100 mile rides, some as long as 116 miles.

  “The only way I could find out if I could do it, is to go out and do it,” Manzoni said.

This accomplishment has come with a wave of support that has led Manzoni to exceed his initial fundraising goal of $15,000 and reset it at $20,000. He is currently less than $2,500 away from meeting it.

“It’s the right time for people to be thinking about cures for cancer, especially for children. We’re really close,” Manzoni said.

To find out more information about the Children’s Cancer Research Fund or The Great Cycle Challenge, those interested may visit https://greatcyclechallenge.com/



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