It takes something special to get a group of people together to work for a charity. It takes someone special to get those people to ride more than 1,000 miles on a bike. On May 26, a group of riders will come together for the fourth annual charity bike ride for the 41 & 9 Foundation and Ignite the Spirit. This year, the team of cyclists will be kicking off from Wrigley Field and riding all the way to Fenway Park in Boston.
41 & 9 Foundation was created months after the death of Henry Schueler, a 14 year old diagnosed with a rare subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. An active child, Henry loved to play both football and baseball. The foundation is now named after his football (41) and baseball (9) jersey numbers and provides funding for “innovative, leading edge research in the field of pediatric high risk leukemia” and fungal infections that children are at risk for while compromised during chemotherapy and a number of other projects aimed at helping children suffering from Leukemia. Additionally, they have started a scholarship awarded to a junior year student-athlete at St. Patrick’s High School in Chicago.
In 2010 the Scheuler family and their foundation were approached by the Chicago Fire Department’s Ignite the Spirit Fund, which supports CFD families in need. The family already had a relationship with the group during Henry’s illness so they were quick to partner when asked to work on a fundraising bike ride. Over the last three years the rides have crossed the country and raised over $150,000. This year the family is honoring their son’s love of baseball by riding from one iconic baseball stadium to another.
All told, with the addition of various detours, the ride will cover over 1,000 miles. The group of 15 Chicago firemen and riders from the 41 & 9 Foundation will leave Wrigley Field on May 26. The trip will take a little less than two full weeks, after leaving that Monday they expect to reach Fenway on Friday, June 6. This year, the group has a goal of raising $100,000 for the two charities, with 75% going towards the 41 & 9 Foundation and the remaining 25% to Ignite the Spirit.
In their first ride in 2010 the Chicago firefighters road 941 miles around Lake Michigan and raised $50,000 to support the research efforts. The following year they were joined by Henry’s father Matt Schueler riding from Chicago to Indianapolis to St. Louis raising $25,000 for both charities. In 2012 the group rode from Redondo Beach, California to Myrtle beach, South Carolina to support pediatric cancer research at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. After taking 2013 off to rest, the group is back at it again in 2014, feeling refreshed and hoping to raise more money than ever before.