Kutztown father Dale Imschweiler will be spend Father’s Day weekend for the fourth time riding his bicycle in the 29th annual Trek Across Maine.
Dale and his wife and brother-in-law will be among the many cyclists from across the nation traveling to Maine for a 180-mile journey that supports the American Lung Association’s research, education and advocacy.
“It really is a good time,” said Dale. “That’s why we love it.”
At first, he was hesitant to participate because the ride is held during Father’s Day weekend, but now his family celebrates Father’s Day the week before “Because it was such a great experience the first time,” he said.
A father of four, Dale said his children, now grown, Tanya, Ryan, and twins Kerri and Kyle, are very supportive of his riding endeavors.
“They do all the things I would have to do at home while riding, so when I come home there’s nothing for me to do,” he said, noting the long training rides and the time spent away from home for the Trek itself. Someone is always home to watch over the pets.
When asked if other fathers participate in the ride, Dale said, “Absolutely, a lot of fathers do the ride, some with their kids, some by themselves.”
Dale will be riding with his wife, Anne. They recently celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary.
“We ride together. I think it’s great. It’s great to have a partner in life but it’s also great to have a partner in life who enjoys the things that you do,” said Dale.
He will also be riding with his brother-in-law Bill Regan of Belfast, Maine, who is the one who first told him about the Trek and encouraged him to become involved.
According to a American Lung Association release, in 2008, just a short time after visiting his brother-in-law in Belfast, Bill suffered a massive heart attack while riding his bike. During their visit, Bill, an avid cyclist, had been talking nonstop about how he was looking forward to biking in the Trek Across Maine. After Bill had the heart attack, Dale promised him that if he pulled through and recovered, he’d bike alongside him at the Trek in June 2009. Bill, Dale, and Dale’s wife Anne, have been riding together ever since.
“Participating in the Trek is just a great experience,” says Dale. “I love the camaraderie and the fact that every dollar I raise is contributing to a cause I care deeply about.”
Both his grandfather and his uncle worked in Pennsylvania mines and developed pneumoconiosis (also known as Black Lung Disease) an occupational lung disease caused by inhaling coal dust.
“I lost my grandfather at a young age, he was very important to me,” said Dale. “So this ride really hits home for me.”
More than 34 million Americans are living with lung disease, the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Lung Association.
He also has many friends who suffer from asthma.
“Continued research into asthma and all lung diseases is critically important and the money raised at the Trek enables that research to continue,” said Dale.
Dale has already raised more than $1,000 this year to support the Lung Association’s mission. Reaching this milestone earned him a spot in the “Winner’s Circle” which enables top fundraisers to certain perks on Trek weekend including early check-in and a special reception the night before the Trek.
“The Trek is really a part of me and it’s something I want to always be with me until I am no longer here.”
This year, he had the image of the Trek Across Maine’s logo tattooed on his calf and plans to have a ribbon with all the years he has ridden tattooed right beneath the logo.
More than 2,000 cyclists start the Trek Across Maine from Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry on Friday, June 14 and finish at Steamboat Landing Park in Belfast on Sunday, June 16. The American Lung Association of the Northeast event is the largest fundraiser for the nonprofit organization nationwide, raising $1.8 million in 2012, with a goal of raising $2 million in 2013.
“Every dollar raised at the Trek Across Maine helps us prevent lung disease and support people who are living with lung disease,” said American Lung Association of the Northeast President & CEO Jeff Seyler. “Our vision is a world free of lung disease and the funds we raise bring us closer to realizing that vision.”
To register for the 29th annual Trek Across Maine or to support Dale Imschweiler with a donation that could help save lives, visit Biketreknewengland.org.