A Highland Park business owner is gearing up for a 150-mile bicycle ride from Milwaukee to Door County, Wisconsin this month.
In fact up to 1,500 others will be heading that way too, part of a fundraising effort for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s 2015 Scenic Shore 150 Bike Tour.
“I’ve been riding my whole life, but more seriously the past 15 years,” said Steve Westlund, a partner at Design Quartet at Ravinia. Westlund, 62, is a member of the Wisconsin chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and has participated in the event before, the largest fund-raiser for the organization.
With riders raising over $1.1 million, the bike tour is a premiere charity cycling event in the Midwest.
“The reason I like to do this, it keeps me focused on fitness. And in the process I hope I can help some other people. We started doing the ride with a gentleman who had leukemia, and he since passed away. I also had a dog die from leukemia,” he said.
The impact after meeting those affected by leukemia can be a life-altering experience, said Westlund. “Once (at a bike tour) I saw a woman riding next to a little boy. Later that night at a dinner for the riders, I asked the woman about the boy. She said the young man was riding alongside her, to give her support. The woman had just been diagnosed with leukemia,” he said. “The people that do this—their heart is in the right place.”
Spin classes with his wife Carol turned him into the serious bicyclist he is today, he said. And riding a bike is kinder on the knees than taking a jog. “I really don’t like to run, so this was another alternative. I train for this all the time, in fact the other day I did about 30 miles. Some of my partners call me the Energizer Bunny.”
This year his son Dan Westlund, a deputy sheriff from St. Paul, Minn. and his wife Shannon will be biking alongside, said Westlund. “It’s nice to have some young legs ride with you,” he said.
Cycling enthusiasts will pedal the scenic shoreline route for the weekend event July 17 and July 18. Blood cancer survivors and their families will be cheering on participants along the way. Carol Westlund will be riding in a shuttle van nearby supporting her husband, son and daughter-in-law.
“I usually can go 75 miles in five to six hours. Of course we have to take breaks,” said Westlund.
Last month Westlund and his company hosted a Wheels and Deals event in High-land Park in which collector and antique cars owned by Dan Beelow, of Beelow’s North-Shore restaurant were displayed, Westlund’s own collection of motorcycles were on display, and raffles were held. About $425 was raised at the event for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
For more information about the bike trek and ways you can help, go to: http://www.lls.org/events/scenic-shore-150-bike-tour or call 888.LLS.7177