A LONG OVERDUE UPDATE

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Simmons (right) with fellow “Bike America” rider Andrew Kenny on the beach in California.

This is way overdue, but if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll remember our story about (now former) VCU track and cross country runner Tyler Simmons’ quest to bike across the United States this summer to raise money for a paralyzed friend, Ricky Chang. I’m happy to report that not only did Simmons and two other riders complete the 3,700-mile trek, but they raised more than $22,000, $2,000 more than their original goal.

Of course, it was anything but easy. There was a near-manged ankle in the plains, an unforgiving headwind in Kansas and an impromptu root canal in Colorado, just to name a few of the pitfalls. But on July 17, forty-seven days after departing Manassas, Va., they hit the shore in San Francisco. Absolutely incredible.

If you want to read more about Simmons’ quest, you can read his blog from the trip HERE. You can also find a ton of photos of the ride HERE and HERE. Congrats to Simmons, Chang and everybody involved.

IMPORTANT THINGS

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1-VCU senior runner Tyler Simmons and his crew are entering the final fundraising stages of “Ride for Ricky”. If you’re late to this party, know that Simmons and two others are putting together a cross country bike ride to raise money for a friend who was paralyzed during a bike accident a few years ago. For more info, check here.

2-Nice Q&A with Maya Smart courtesy of Richmond.com.

Meanwhile, abundant VCU alumni news over the weekend:

3-VCU alum Brandon Inge seems to be adjusting to Oakland well. He hit his first home run as a member of the A’s yesterday:

4-Don’t know if you missed it, but VCU alum Cody Eppley was recalled by the New York Yankees over the weekend. Eppley takes the roster spot made available by Mariano Rivera’s injury. It’s too bad it happened that way, but such is sports.

5-Former VCU golfer John Rollins earned his fourth top 10 finish of the season and topped $1 million in prize money for the year with his seventh place showing at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Here’s Rollins chipping in from the fringe during the tournament’s opening round, also known as “a golf pipe dream” for me.

6-The VCU Baseball Team scored a couple of come-from-behind victories to take two of three from Georgia State this weekend. The wins vaulted the Rams from fifth to eighth in the CAA standings. The top six earn CAA Tournament bids. Meatloaf would approve of the Rams’ work this weekend.

7-The VCU Women’s Track & Field team narrowly missed out on its first CAA Championship over the weekend. The turnaround in that program the last 3-4 years has been incredible.

A RIDE FOR RICKY

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Ricky Chang was paralyzed from the neck down during a BMX accident in 2008.

Ricky Chang’s passion was always riding his BMX bike, as the “Live Fast, Ride Faster” tattoo inside his left bicep will attest. That’s why he keeps a bike in his bedroom. Someday, he’d like to ride it again. It’s there to serve as motivation. On July 19, 2008, Ricky was paralyzed from the neck down during a bike stunt gone awry.

It’s been difficult for VCU senior cross country and track runner Tyler Simmons to watch Chang, his longtime friend, struggle through years of rehabilitation. Simmons, who used to ride mountain bikes with Chang, also knows how badly he’d like to take that bike in his room for a ride. That’s one of the reasons why Simmons, with the help of a couple of friends, is planning a ride in Ricky’s honor.

This isn’t going to be just any ride. Simmons is teaming with Andrew Kenny and Kevin White to ride cross country to raise funds for Chang. “Bike-America: Ricky Rides Again” is scheduled to begin June 1, 2012 at Chang’s house in Manassas, Va. The 3,745-mile trek will cut through America’s Heartland and into the Rocky Mountains before coming to a close on July 12 in San Francisco.

Simmons says the trio hopes to raise $20,000, 10 percent of which will fund the ride. The rest, approximately $18,000, will help pay for Chang’s treatment, as well as ease the family’s medical bills.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Simmons said. “If I was in the same situation, he’d do the same.”

THE ACCIDENT
Simmons and Chang met in high school and forged close a bond through skateboarding, biking, poker nights and laughter.

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