This past weekend, we celebrated Father’s Day and our latest Rider of the Month honoree couldn’t be more fitting for the occasion. We’re shining a spotlight on an outstanding dad who is crossing the country on his ElliptiGO bike to honor his late son, as well as to raise awareness and funds for a national crisis affecting millions. Get ready to be inspired by Clay Sanders, our June 2021 Rider of the Month.
Next week, Clay is embarking on a journey he’s calling, “In Joel’s Steps.” Joel, Clay’s son, lost his battle with addiction at the age of 28. Over an eleven-year period, Joel fought hard not only to overcome his own struggle but to help others to do the same.
Over 21 million Americans face addiction and only 10% of them receive treatment. Last year alone, 90,000 people died as a result of substance addiction. Clay hopes that his cross-country trek will not only raise awareness for this crisis but also raise funds for amazing organizations who are addressing it. Clay shared that his goal is to humanize and destigmatize addiction, being an ambassador for the message that addiction and its stigma are both treatable diseases.
Clay will be embarking on his adventure in early July, starting in San Francisco, California and riding all the way to Charleston, South Carolina. Clay will no doubt go the distance. He has an endurance sports resume that includes the Leadville 100, 30 marathons (including several Boston Marathons,) a full Ironman Triathlon, and multiple half Ironman distance races. He even qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships!
While Clay isn’t completely unfamiliar with long-distance events, he’s a relatively new member of our ElliptiGO community.
“I first learned of ElliptiGO only 4 or 5 months ago,” Clay told us. “I had received news from my orthopedic surgeon that I should not run again. I had returned after trying to recover to normality following meniscus surgery 10 months previous. This was a blow as I had already delayed this cross country project, originally a run, for a year due to the knee problem (and COVID-19.)”
Like so many of our customers, Clay found out about ElliptiGO by seeing one out in the wild.
“That same week as I was debating how to traverse the country I saw a gentleman on an ElliptiGO bike accompanying his son on a bike heading to school in my town of Salida, CO,” he said. “It definitely caught my attention, never having seen one before, and the question formed, might this be a solution?”
He found out who the rider was, contacted him to test ride it, and ordered his 11R just a couple of days later. “It combined some of the best of two of my interests, running and biking, into its own unique experience!”
We asked Clay, what’s next after this ride. He told us, “I envision continuing ‘In Joel’s Steps’ following the completion of the ride with a documentary or series of video clips sharing the stories of affected families I collect along the way.”
He continued, “I intend to talk to groups along the way with the hope of getting others to open up and share their story. This not only frees others by telling their story knowing they can help others as well, but the stories will, I hope, help to humanize the statistics and reduce the stigma connected with Opioid Use Disorder and Substance Use Disorders in general. This is the biggest impediment to a more rapid, effective response to this problem with better treatment practices, better and faster access to care, and seeking treatment.”
As soon as we learned about Clay’s story, and Joel’s, we knew it was important to share it with our community. We invite you to support Clay however you can. Here are a few ways to do just that:
- Visit Clay’s website to learn all about his story and about the addiction crisis in our nation.
- Donate on Clay’s GoFundMe page.
- Learn how you can participate in the ride, in person or virtually.
- Follow Clay’s ride on Facebook and Instagram.
- Clay also invites you to share your story if you or your family has been affected by this disease through a form on his website. (Coming soon!)
Clay, your story has touched all of us here at ElliptiGO HQ. We appreciate you sharing your story with us and allowing us to share it with our community. We are wishing you a safe journey and winds at your back! It means the world to us that you’ve made ElliptiGO bikes part of this meaningful endeavour.