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Cyclists Ride to Support Healthy Air, Lungs

American Lung Association hosted 27th Annual Fight for Air Ride this past weekend.

Nearly 100 cyclists rolled into the McHenry County College parking lot on Sunday morning on behalf of the American Lung Association.

During the 27th Annual Fight for Air Ride, some bikers rode to raise money in honor of loved one lost to lung disease. Others hit the road for the athletic challenge of the course, and some just for the pleasure of the three-day ride from Crystal Lake to Lake Geneva, Wis. and back.

"Our participants range from avid cyclists to beginning riders," said Meghan Miller, executive director of the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago.

"What's unique about this event is that we definitely have the endurance athletes, but we also have families. Our youngest rider this year was a seven-year-old boy who rode a tandem with his father."

Cyclists have the option of riding all three days, or only two. Day one is a 50-mile course weaving through the farmlands between Crystal Lake and Lake Geneva, Wis.

Day two - Saturday - involves another 50-mile route, called the Lake Tour Bike Trek, which takes riders through the Lake Geneva area. The first two legs end at The Abbey Resort and Spa in Fontana, Wis., where riders can enjoy indoor and outdoor pools, beach access, golf, the marina and spa packages.

Sunday's route  leads cyclists back to their cars at MCC, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake.

Veteran Fight for Air Rider Roger Keller, 76, of Hickory Hills, chose to peddle the 50-mile course from Crystal Lake to Lake Geneva on Friday. He then spent the day on a friend's boat in Lake Geneva while his biking partner, his son Greg Keller of Palatine, played a round of golf.

"I have taken the Saturday leg off for the past couple years," said Keller who has biked  21 of the past 27 tours. While he originally joined the ride in an effort to prevent people from smoking, his own father died of lung cancer in 2007.

"This is the only biking event I do in the summer. It's not a race, it's a ride. I enjoy the people. I enjoy the route, and I enjoy the facilities."

Keller said the hardest part about this year's race was the wind, but he was thankful for the sunny days. Many riders pushed to finish the tour by noon Sunday to avoid riding in the heat.

Fight for Air participants pay a small fee to enter the ride, and then each rider solicits donations of at least $600, Miller said.

"The average participant raises $1,200," Miller said. "Last year, the rider raised $100,000 for the American Lung Association."

Miller said this year's Fight for Air fundraising goal also is $100,000. Race organizers were still tabulating their figures on Sunday, but Miller said it was looking promising the organization would reach that goal.

"We still have some donations coming in," Miller said.

Miller added that the American Lung Association holds five signature fundraisers each year. The Fight for Air Ride is one of those events. The tour draws cyclists from throughout the Chicagoland area, Miller said.

The American Lung Association of Greater Chicago aims to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.

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