Most of us love our siblings and would do a lot of things to help them out. Would we ride a bike thousands of miles to make their lives better, though? One man would.
Matt DiNote recently pulled into Sea Isle City, New Jersey, after completing a planned 4,400-mile bicycle trek from California. He did this to raise money for Eden Autism Services in New Jersey. His 25-year-old brother Michael, who has autism and Down’s syndrome, inspired him to make the journey.
Of his love for his brother, Matt said, “I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for him. He’s had the biggest influence on my life, so it just seemed right to dedicate this ride to him. He’s helped me realize that you can be happy with just the simplest of things.”
Matt, a former AmeriCorps volunteer, began his cross-country trip in San Diego at the end of August. His goal was to raise $15,000 for Eden Autism, which has a 12-month school program for 3- to 21-year-olds, vocational training for teens and adults, and residential services for adults, among other offerings.
Matt’s father Lenny says the organization is important to them. “Our ultimate thing is to have Michael taken care of some day when we’re not around, and what better place than somewhere that’s not just a place — it’s a place with people that care.”
When Matt reached Sea Isle, he had met his GoFundMe fundraising goal and then some. He presented Eden with a ceremonial check topping $16,500.
The journey was chronicled on a Facebook page, an Instagram, and a blog.
The first blog entry, written about setting off from San Diego, sheds some light on the rough beginning.
Matt wrote, “Everything was going smoothly until we hit our first real hill. This journey turned in to a ride/walk during these early stages while I get my legs in better shape. I’ll admit that at one point as we walked up the hill, I hoped to see Sea Isle when we reached the peak, but sure enough, it wasn’t there. We did get to have a fun ride down the other side though!”
By his last stretch, from Philadelphia to Sea Isle City, he said he had to deal with 21 degree temperatures and his bike deciding not to shift anymore. When he began to approach his destination, seeing his family, fire trucks, and police cars helped him drive it all home.
Eden Autism was happy to see him reach his goal after the long journey. They wrote on Facebook, “Today, Matt arrived home in Sea Isle and celebrated the end of his journey with his family. His trip not only raised over $16,000 for Eden, but his determination and love for his brother inspired individuals across the nation.”
Matt might not be done with cycle-based fundraising. Upon his return, he said, “There’s something inside of me that says maybe it’s not all over. I might be back on the bike again tomorrow.”Whizzco