Family’s border-to-border bike ride helps homeless, honors mom

By Maecy Enger, Columbian Staff Reporter

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Border to Border Benefit

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Here’s how Vancouver’s Toland family and friend Kevin Putnam are spending the summer: Traveling from Canada to Mexico on a 1,700-mile bike trip, helping out nonprofit Share and dedicating the ride to the memory of Terry Toland’s mother.

Terry and Diane Toland and their two daughters are calling their bike ride the Border to Border Benefit. They will ride the distance with Terry Toland’s friend, Kevin Putnam of Camas.

The family wanted to do something that combined their passion with a way to honor Jean E. Toland, who died recently. The Tolands have always been a cycling family and Jean Toland helped the homeless through her church in Sacramento, Calif. So they decided to combine these things and go on a cycling trip while raising funds to donate to an organization that helps the homeless.

Putnam was asked to join the endeavor since he is Terry Toland’s longtime friend and cycling partner.

The Tolands decided to help Share, a Vancouver nonprofit that operates meal programs, shelters and other programs for homeless people.

“The average age of homeless in America is 8 years old and as a kid, I think it’s really powerful and I want to prevent that,” said Sarah Toland, 14.

“I’m excited to do things for Share,” Shannon Toland, 11, said.

The Tolands set up an agreement with Share last November. Sue Warren, development director of Share, is exciting to be working with them.

“Working to raise money and pool our different resources has been really good,” Warren said.

Each rider can be sponsored for the miles they ride or for a flat rate. The original goal was to raise $25,000 but so far the group total is closer to $5,000. They are anticipating more donations as the ride goes on.

To call attention to their ride, they are wearing jerseys with a logo that Sarah Toland created; after she had taken a graphic design class, her dad put her up to the task. They also will post signs explaining their ride around the areas where they camp at night.

The group set out July 9 and hope to reach the border near Tijuana, Mexico, on Aug. 3. Both Terry Toland and Putnam are planning to bike the entire distance, an average of about 80 miles per day. The hardest thing will be “recovering every day” Putnam said, “and the distance is quite long. The elevation is another thing.”

All of the bike riders have been training for the past year. Sarah Toland plans to ride 500 miles of the entire distance and Shannon Toland will ride 200 miles. Diane Toland will follow along with the support vehicle, hauling gear and keeping everyone healthy and fed.

The riders may be joined in different sections by business associates and friends.

The route will mostly be coastal, following U.S. Highway 101 and California Highway 1. At night, the group plans on camping but will probably go to a motel every third or fourth day to shower.

The group left Vancouver on Friday to head to Blaine, at the Canadian border, where they began their trip. Their street-by-street route can be found on their website. They say they also hope to post pictures, post to the blog and add video from a helmet cam. The site also accepts donations.

“Just happy to be giving back to the community,” Terry Toland said.