Cyclists raise funds for tornado relief effort

At the end of this month, 25 riders will be riding their bikes a distance of 275 miles in three days. This ride is an offshoot off of last year’s 800-mile bike ride from Joplin to New Orleans. Both of these treks are for good causes.

The 2014 ride is meant to benefit families impacted by recent tornado disasters.

This year’s ride will be from Joplin to tornado-devastated Moore, Okla. Because of this tornado connection, the ride is called MOJO.

Each rider must raise $1,500 in order to participate, and the organization is also accepting additional donations. The fundraising goal is $100,000.

The group has decided to designate the money for families affected by the tornado in Baxter Springs.

Atlas employee, Emily Dunavent, explains they have chosen to take action in Baxter Springs because, unlike the Joplin and Moore areas, the Red Cross did not raise any money to help the tornado victims in that area.

“We are just hoping to get them back to their new normal,” Dunavent said.

The 275-mile trek will be split into approximately 90 mile legs each day, and the riders will have the opportunity to take breaks every 20 miles.

All of the riders are currently in training mode.

Some have very little experience with bicycles and have never ridden this distance, but on Oct. 23-25, they will ride, rain or shine.

“I have never done anything this challenging,” Daniel Valentine, MOJO rider, said.

Through the rigorous training, the riders realize the impact they will have on Baxter Springs and other areas affected by tornados, and it makes it all worth it.

“It’s a lot of personal sacrifice,” Valentine said, “But it means a lot to be able to help in any way.”

Another important aspect of this bike ride is the camaraderie.

Most of these bikers do not know one another, and it is an interesting assortment of riders. Some are biking veterans, who, after taking on the 800-mile trek last year, think this tour will seem miniscule.

But for some others, having just purchased their first bicycles, it will be one of the most challenging experiences of their life.

“[This event] took a group of strangers and melded them into a family,” Valentine said. “All walks of life come together for this cause, and together we will ride through the hardship and pain.”

These riders are making sacrifices to their time and bodies, and hope that the community will come together in supporting them. Donations are accepted at, and organizers say every little bit helps.