David Anderson stands in front of his Luther Place home by his 2007 Trek 4500 mountain bike. His parents reside in the home across from his backyard. He raises thousands of dollars each year for the Freeborn County Bike-A-Thon, which is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. --Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune
David Anderson stands in front of his Luther Place home by his 2007 Trek 4500 mountain bike. His parents reside in the home across from his backyard. He raises thousands of dollars each year for the Freeborn County Bike-A-Thon, which is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Rolling for the dough

Published 10:04am Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nearly everyone who regularly rides the Freeborn County Bike-A-Thon knows David Anderson.

The 41-year-old has ridden the fundraiser for the American Cancer Society for 20 years. Before that, as a kid, he helped organizers with the rest stops for riders.

But what’s remarkable is that this man who has a developmental disability nevertheless raises thousands of dollars each year, then goes out and rides all 100 miles.

Anderson goes to local businesses and asks for a pledge of any amount. Some give $2. Some give $50. This year, he has seven pledge sheets filled front and back with names of businesses, in addition to names of friends and family who chipped in. He began in March with a goal of $2,000, and he has raised $2,100, he said.

This poster by Aktion Club member David Anderson won first place in an international contest.
This poster by Aktion Club member David Anderson won first place in an international contest.

He used to have a helmet covered with stickers from his ride sponsors. It seemed sort of like a NASCAR driver’s helmet.

Anderson said that helmet is lost. He is starting to sticker a new one this year. He said he has been raising funds for the Bike-A-Thon for about 10 years.

“I do it because it is good for me. I drive a lot — I ride my bike,” he said.

Anderson gets around in the warm months by riding his 2007 Trek 4500 mountain bike. That’s what he will ride Saturday at the Bike-A-Thon. In the winter, he gets rides. His parents are Richard and Betty Anderson. He resides on Luther Place, and their house is across from his backyard.

He no longer drives because he sustained injuries in a car crash on icy roads near Emmons back in 1994, he said. His car slid under a semitrailer, and he had to be extracted with the Jaws of Life, he said. His left eye is made of glass, and his left leg is an inch shorter than his right. He said he has a rod in his left leg.

Anderson estimated he rides 1,000 to 1,500 miles a year on his bike. He pedals to Cedar Valley Services, which transports him to work in assigned places such as the shipping area at Malt-O-Meal in Faribault or a recycling center in Austin. He also works a nighttime janitorial crew.

Anderson is a member of the Aktion Club, a version of Kiwanis Club for adults with developmental disabilities. The club is active in raising funds for the Bike-A-Thon and competes against the other four Kiwanis Clubs in Albert Lea.

He likes to draw, and last year one of his drawings won first place in an international Aktion Club contest.

He also is a member of the Arc of Freeborn County. Director Jo Lowe said it would be astonishing to know how much Anderson has raised for the Bike-A-Thon over the years.

“He does make a big difference every year and can be proud of what he has done,” she said.

The Bike-A-Thon raises funds for the American Cancer Society. It starts with about 150 riders. Many ride to Glenville, then hop on trucks for a ride back to Albert Lea. Others continue to ride for the 100-mile duration.

Riders need to raise at least $35 or pay that much to ride in the event.

The 41st annual Freeborn County Bike-A-Thon gets rolling at 6 a.m. Saturday at the warming house for Sibley Elementary School, across from the Korner Mart on Front Street. In addition to the meal in Alden, rest stops are in Glenville, Gordonsville, Myrtle, Hayward, Geneva, Hartland, Freeborn, Conger and Albert Lea.

Anderson said he likes bicycling because it allows him to see the animals, birds and the landscapes.

“It relaxes me a lot,” he said.