This past Saturday, September 30th, more than 800 cyclists took part in the Inaugural Reach The Beach Washington, a charitable ride for the American Lung Association. The event raised over $185,000, which will fund research, education and advocacy. Cyclists chose one of four routes beginning in Lacey (100 miles), Olympia (80 miles), Elma (44 miles) or Cosmopolis (25 miles), each ending at the finish line celebration at Westport’s scenic oceanfront. Many cyclists rode in honor or memory of those whose lives have been affected by lung disease.
Governor Jay Inslee and his team made the 100-mile journey from Lacey. Governor Inslee is an avid cyclist and outdoor enthusiast, and he shares many values with the American Lung Association. He has a vested interest in improving health care for all Washington residents and has worked on successful health care reforms that have lowered Washington’s uninsured rate to a record-low of six percent. He actively engages and speaks for our state as Congress has challenged the Affordable Care Act. Governor Inslee also recognizes the value and need for clean, healthy air for all. He’s worked diligently on a strategy for Washington to reduce carbon pollution and improve energy independence. He has worked with West Coast leaders establishing the Pacific Coast Collaboration to reduce greenhouse gas emission.
JBLM resident Command Sergeant Major Brian Flom, the event’s top fundraiser, rode because the physical push helps him combat PTSD. Flom committed fully to the new event by captaining a team of 5 other fellow JBLM residents, “Team Protectors”, including Michael Dearborn, David Lintz, Jason Tillero, Aaron Whittle and Jennifer Whittle.
As an experienced “century” rider, Governor Inslee offered Flom the following advice: “The secret to centuries is to slow down – I really believe that. And, find someone who is just a little bit faster than you and try to stay with them. The Reach the Beach course is a really great one to start with, since there’s really no elevation gain.”
Colin Berg was one of the many riders whose life has been touched by lung disease. Colin has lived in Washington for 30 years, and his parents resided in Lacey where the event kicked off. In October of 2016, Berg’s mother passed away after battling COPD. “Every year I try to do a charity ride, and when I saw that Reach The Beach was coming to Washington and what the benefit was for, I knew I had to ride in honor of my mother.” said Berg. “With the start in Lacey, I knew this was meant to be.”
“We are grateful to all of the sponsors and participants for contributing to the success of the inaugural Reach The Beach Washington event,” says Executive Director, Season Oltmann, “with special appreciation to the Thurston and Grays Harbor County communities for such a warm welcome. We look forward to next year.”