At just 20-years-old, Michael Mirabella put more miles on his road bike, in just three weeks, than some of us will in a lifetime.
On August 15, 2012, Temple Students & Rowing Team Members Mirabella and Ryan Rickus set off on an 1900-mile journey from Philadelphia, Pa. to Key West Fl. with nothing but their bikes, supplies, and a dream to raise money and awareness for children with special needs.
Mirabella’s passion to help special needs children came from the bond he shared with his cousin Joey, who is on the Autism Spectrum.
The two young college students road at least 100-miles a day to complete their ride, which they called Cycle4Awareness. Often times, they relied on the help from strangers for a couch to sleep on or a hot shower after a long days ride.
By the end of their adventure, they handed over the donated proceeds for Autism Speaks and knew they were ready to do it all over again. So, on August 14, 2013 Mirabella, Rickus, and their new teammate Fergal Barry set off on their second adventure for Cycle4Awareness.
This time, they rode 1900 miles from Vancouver, Canada to San Diego, Ca. and raise money for Athletes Helping Athletes – a non-profit dedicated to helping and providing support for athletes with special needs.
Tragically, that same year, Michael was diagnosed with Lymphoma. He passed away the following year on December 2, 2014 at just 23-years-old.
Today, his kind-hearted spirit still lives on through his mother, Cathy Moeller, and Cycle4Awareness. Cathy and her husband Terry Moller turned Cycle4Awareness into what Michael always wanted, a “proper non-profit organization” that benefits special needs children.
Since 2015, Cycle4Awareness evolved from a cross-country ride into an annual 36-mile charity ride in Long Beach Island, NJ. In every ride they’ve held, Moeller has used the same bike her son took on both his journeys to complete the 36-miles. For her, the ride is a way to stay connected to her son while also seeing his dream into fruition.
This year, Cycle4Awareness is holding their 4th Annual ride on September 9, 2018 from 9am to 2pm. The route runs from Barnegat Light to Holgate Beach and back and they are currently seeking riders and sponsors for the event.
Those who want to participate, but can’t do 36-miles can opt for two shorter distances – 18 miles from Barnegat Light to Ship Bottom and back or 5 miles within the island.
The proceeds from this year’s ride will be donated toward the purchase of sensory playground equipment for special needs pre-school students at the Oxycocus School in Manahawkin, NJ.
The registration fee is $40 for adults, $25 for college students, and $15 for children. For more information or to register for the event, please visit www.cycle4awareness.org.