Two Cyclists from the Rehabilitation Clinic at St. Francis Manor Cross the State of Iowa in 2.5 Days for a Great Cause
Two Grinnell cyclists, Physical Therapist Assistant Tim Stahl and Physical Therapist Jon Duke, recently completed their LiteGait Fundraiser ride across Iowa in just two and a half days! In addition to accomplishing their goal of crossing the state on gravel or dirt roads, they also raised sufficient funds to purchase a LiteGait system for the Rehabilitation Clinic at St. Francis Manor.
The LiteGait system is a partial weight bearing machine that will support patients while they are rehabilitating from a stroke or any other medical condition that limits their ability to walk or maintain balance. The LiteGait will be paired with a smart treadmill that monitors walking patterns and conveys information through a mounted tablet screen which the therapist can use to instruct patients on needed changes to improve their balance and efficiency of walking without the fear of falling.
Tim and Jon started their bike ride on the western border of Iowa at Hawarden shortly after 4 AM on Friday, May 4. There was some concern regarding heavy rain that swept through northern Iowa the previous day, but the gravel roads were entirely manageable and the water-logged dirt roads were easily detoured around. The first day’s route through the scenic Little Sioux River Valley covered 139 miles with an elevation climb of 5,026 feet and was completed in 14 hours.
After spending a night in a hotel, the two cyclists embarked on their second leg of the journey which went from Algona to Cresco and included some dirt roads. It was a day of contrasts for them as it included Pilot Knob State Park (one of the highest points in Iowa) and also the flattest sections of their route crossing the central plains of Iowa. The second day covered 143 miles with a 4,265 foot elevation climb and was completed in 12 hours.
Tim and Jon spent time with their respective families Saturday night around Decorah before embarking on their third and final day of the ride from Cresco to Lansing, which covered the hilly terrain between Decorah and the Mississippi River. At the end of day three, the duo had traveled 347 miles across Iowa with an elevation climb of 13,741 feet!
“A lot of people grimace at the thought of riding on gravel roads—envisioning a rough, muddy or unstable surface which it definitely can be at times—but usually there is a smooth track worn into the gravel,” Jon shared. “Having the right bicycle and setup is important too. We had zero mechanical difficulties during the ride which speaks volumes to the value of the expertise of a local bike shop. We were sponsored by Black Tire Bike Shop in Marshalltown but we are blessed to have many excellent bike shops in Central Iowa that all have the knowledge and skills to equip riders of any level.”
Throughout their ride, the cyclists were supported by Jon’s wife, Susie Duke, and Gary Shebeck, who took turns driving the support vehicle stocked with food, beverages and necessary cycling gear. “We would like to thank God, who granted perfect conditions and health that made this event a success,” said Tim. “We continue to be humbled by the overwhelming support in every way centered on our trip across Iowa. We are so grateful for all of the supporters who have made this ride and this fundraiser a success.”
Tim and Jon further shared their gratitude by stating, “We would also like to thank our families for their support during all the months of training, planning and for the reception at the conclusion of this great event. Special thanks to Russ and Sheila Sadler who initiated the LiteGait dream for our Rehab Clinic; and to Gary and Connie Shebeck, Ken and Mary Eggman, and all the other gracious financial partners who contributed toward the purchase of the LiteGait system. Lastly, we would like to say thank you for the tremendous support from both St. Francis Manor and Key Rehabilitation for believing in our vision.”
The public is invited to see a demonstration of the new LiteGait system in action during a special celebration on Thursday, June 7, at 2 PM in the St. Francis Manor Social Center. Tim and Jon will also share highlights of their great bike ride across Iowa at that time. The public will also have an opportunity to view a demonstration of the LiteGait system during Seeland Park’s Summer Tour of Homes on Sunday, June 10, between 1:30 and 4 PM at the Rehabilitation Clinic located on the west end of St. Francis Manor.