WALA to return to Almanor Sept. 15
|The 16th annual Wheel Around Lake Almanor is set for Sept. 15. The handcycle endurance challenge supports local families dealing with disabilities or medical needs. Photo by Suzie Henise|
Sept. 4, 2013 — The 16th annual Wheel Around Lake Almanor Hand Cycle Endurance Challenge will again take on the 34-mile trek around Lake Almanor on Sunday, Sept. 15.
WALA chairman Randy Fossom, who has been a ride participant for each of the past 15 years, talked about the sport of handcycling and the local event.
“It’s important that we all understand that this is not a race to see who wins — it’s all about the wheelers setting personal goals and meeting the challenge of the 34-mile route,” he said.
“The Sunday morning lineup will include 13 handcyclists, which is a record for our event.
“In addition to many familiar faces of the annual event, handcyclist Dwight Leiss, from Quincy, will ride for the first time this year,” Diane Fossom said.
She also said the number of cyclists who ride in support of WALA, or join in on some point in the ride, seems to grow each year.
In addition to the Sunday morning endurance challenge, WALA offers a Saturday evening dinner and an event-day breakfast for the participants.
“The purpose of the Saturday night dinner is to establish a camaraderie among the riders.
“You hear them share about how they accomplish certain tasks or even the attributes of different wheelchairs and handcycles. It is a good way for them to get together to communicate, compare and learn from each other,” Diane said.
WALA begins in front of the Old Town Chester location of the Lake Almanor Elks Lodge No. 2626.
Cycles will be lined up after the Sunday breakfast and riders will start their ride at 9 a.m.
This year’s event is bittersweet for the Fossoms, who, along with Dave and Suzie Henise, founded WALA.
“Tom McCurdy, a longtime friend of ours, will be driving in from Pocatello, Idaho, to participate in what will be Randy’s 16th and final WALA challenge,” Diane said.
Equally bittersweet is the fact that co-founders Dave and Suzie Henise will be absent from the event this year.
In the first-ever WALA event, Fossom was the only participant and Suzie rode her bicycle to support him.
The Henises are now based in Reno where Dave is currently recovering from a major stroke.
WALA is a fundraiser that supports many local children and families who have disabilities and other medical issues.
“The handcyclists of WALA face challenges every day of their lives, whether that is paraplegia, quadriplegia, spina bifada, cerebral palsy or the loss of both legs. But, on one special day of the year, they rise to meet the challenge of riding a handcycle or wheelchair around Lake Almanor,” Randy said. “They do so because they have a deep commitment to helping others.”
Over the past 15 years WALA has provided support for dozens of individuals in need and to community agencies that provide other needed support in the Lake Almanor area.
Pledges made to riders and community contributions, both local and from across the nation have exceeded $80,000 over the ride’s history.
Not limited to September giving, year-round donations can be made to WALA, c/o Lake Almanor Elks Lodge, P.O. Box 1329, Chester, CA 96020.
The annual event is traditionally hosted the second weekend after Labor Day.
For more information about the ride in general or to request to be a 2013 sponsor, contact Randy Fossom at his Lake Almanor number, 259-2271, or his alternate Chico number, 895-3964.
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