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Cycling club covering 500 miles to promote elder health, leadership development

Cycling club covering 500 miles to promote elder health, leadership development

GREENVILLE, Pa.—The Thiel College Cycling club is establishing a strong presence in the community this summer by encouraging service and leadership development.

The club has undertaken one trip already and has another planned: a 400-mile ride from Greenville to Washington, D.C., led by alumnus Fred Kiser ’66, Tyler Hendzel ’16 and club adviser and Associate Dean of Career Development Martin Black and a women’s, two-day century (100-mile) ride down the Greater Allegheny Passage trail by eight students, led by alumna Kourtney Polvinale ’16 and Assistant Professor of Business Administration and Accounting Karen Shaffer. The first trip was completed May 18, and the women’s trip will be June 10-11.

The first trip was centered around the theme “Rocking the GAP”—a double meaning referring to the Greater Allegheny Passage trail on which both groups will ride, and the dance-inspiring rock music that the riders will play to seniors at senior-care facilities along the way—thus “rocking” the generation gap. The formal name for the trip was, “Rocking the GAP: 2017 Bike Trek for Elder Health”.

The nine riders on the first trip were Black, Hendzel, Kiser, Frank Jackson ’18, Nick McNutt ’17, Cody Wagner ’19, Dan Wiegmann ’17, Hunter Young ’18, and the trip mechanic Gary Semroc. They began the trip by hosting a “Cinco de Mayo Danceathon” at St. Paul’s Continuing Care Community in Greenville and ended at mile marker zero on the Greater Allegheny Passage trail.

The riders on the second trip will travel 100 miles in two days from Connellsville, Pa., to Cumberland, Md. The 10 riders are Polvinale, Shaffer, Natasha Barber ’17, Sam Burkhardt ’17, Tawney Godfrey ’18, Georgia Kantner ’20, Aleni Louden ’20, Ashley Mangel ’18, Jessica Orczeck ’18 and Summer Wark ’17.

All of the members of the second trip are experiencing long-distance bicycling for the first time. The Thiel College Cycling Club developed this century ride to introduce these women to the sport and to cultivate leadership skills among the group. The individuals were given ownership over particular elements of the organization of the trip, such as logistics, first-aid and lodging. The initiative takes inspiration from programs like REI’s “Force of Nature” campaign and the Susan G. Komen “More Than Pink” program, hoping to empower young women at Thiel to take on leadership roles.

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About Thiel College

Thiel College is a private liberal arts institution founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 25 varsity sports, and an 11:1 student-faculty ratio to more than 900 students. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2016 and remains committed to combining tradition with innovation.


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