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Seniors  

Biker Riding Cross-Country
Raising funds to fight cystic fibrosis


Thursday, August 2, 2007 10:59 AM CDT


Ed “Shevy” Shevlin is biking cross-country to raise money for 5-month-old Anthony Smith.
Who would have thought that riding a motorcycle cross-country might help save lives? Ed Shevlin has never doubted it.

The 46-year-old sanitation worker from Rockaway Park may look tough judging by his tattooed facade, but he has a huge heart. He has directed his passion for helping others to riding his Harley Davidson from Rockaway Beach, Queens to Rockaway Beach, Oregon to raise money for cystic fibrosis research.

“I know a lot of people who have it and I realized I could raise a significant amount of money,” said Shevlin, whose friends have called him “Shevy” since his third grade teacher coined the name.

Before leaving for his three-and-a-half-week journey on July 14, Shevlin raised more than $7,000 to donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He said he hopes to raise $50,000 by the end of his trip with additional contributions from people who are sponsoring him by the mile. His trip is estimated to cover 8,000 to 9,000 miles.

“When I go out on my route as a sanitation man people are congratulating me and telling me they love the idea of going on the trip for cystic fibrosis,” he explained. “They're telling me to stop so they can write a check.”
Shevlin's story also has a personal twist. He has dedicated his ride to the relative of a friend, Bob Cawthorne, a retired city sanitation worker whose 5-month-old grandson, Anthony Smith, has cystic fibrosis. Moreover, within days of Shevlin's departure, Anthony's father, Sergeant First Class Eric Smith, was redeployed to Iraq for his second tour of duty. In October, Cawthorne will move to Savannah, GA to help take care of his grandson.

Cawthorne's daughter, Claire Cawthorne-Smith, a loan officer in a bank, travels frequently from Savannah to Atlanta - a 250-mile trip - to get treatment for her son.

“She makes a little vacation out of it,” Cawthorne says of the trips she takes with her infant son.

Cystic fibrosis is a disease that causes the body to produce abnormally thick mucus, clogging airways and often leading to life-threatening lung infections, as well as obstructing the pancreas and preventing the absorption and digestion of food. It affects 30,000 people in the United States, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. People with the disease do not normally live past their 30s.

Shevlin, who has also traveled through Maine, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ireland, England and Wales on his motorcycle, is not doing his adventure for cystic fibrosis alone. Although he is the only rider raising money for the disease, he will meet up with members of the Harley Davidson Owners Group in Delaware and then ride to Oregon.

Shevlin can count more then his fellow riders as friends and supporters, however. He admits he is well known in Rockaway Park as a lifelong resident. He is also dedicated to local civic associations.

“I'm very involved in Irish affairs and everybody knows me from that,” Shevlin said. “A lot of the kids I grew up with are now adults and I know them and their children. It's a small town.”

The night before his departure, friends threw Shevlin a going-away fundraising bash at Jameson's Pub in Rockaway Park, where a sanitation workers' pipe band also performed. Shevlin hoped the event would help him get closer to his fundraising goal.

Raising money for charity is not new to Shevlin, who has also biked for breast cancer awareness. He believes it is incumbent upon healthy, capable individuals to help those who are less fortunate.

“If no one else is going to do it then I'll be the one that takes the mantel of responsibility to help people,” he said. “I think that more people should take the initiative upon themselves.”

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Aug 27, 2007 7:53 PM ET
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