Click here to view this week’s Focus.
Knoxville cyclist rides for Redeeming Hope
“According to the AARP and the Senior Olympics, I’m a Senior. So, accordingly, I must now reap the benefits of this age. Sit back, garner ‘respect,’ enjoy the easier life, and simply relax. …Umm, I don’t think so,” said Knoxville resident John LaMacchia.
At age 55 LaMacchia is husband, father of three, and the band director at Vine Middle School. In his spare time, he is a cyclist and has been for 41 years. Over the course of his two decade long commitment to cycling, LaMacchia has ridden thousands of miles with his wife and sons and with friends all across the United States- literally.
According to LaMacchia, the pinnacle of his cycling career came in 1980 when he rode across the United States from San Gragorio Beach, California to Asbury Park, NJ. LaMacchia rode 3,400 miles in 56 days, averaging 70 miles per day- a personal goal which undoubtedly required both determination and perseverance.
Recently, he set a new goal, when he became concerned about the plight of the area’s homeless and felt compelled to get involved.
“Most of the time, I drive right past the “homeless” who hold signs at intersections without giving in to their requests not knowing what they would do with a handout from me,” he said. “Yet…We are called to care for the poor. So, that is what I want to do.”
LaMacchia decided to take his passion for cycling and compete in the Tennessee State Championship Senior Olympic 5k Time Trial in Franklin later this summer in order to bring attention to Knoxville’s Redeeming Hope Ministries, an organization that provides a number of services for local homeless. This particular goal will require the same persistence that propelled him across the country three decades ago.
LaMacchai trains hard. The 5k cycling time trial is a flat-out sprint that lasts for 3.1 miles…in order to win, even as a senior, he will have to ride an average of 27 miles per hour. (Professional cyclists average 31 miles per hour.)
“We all think the Senior Olympics is a bunch of wrinkly old people who try to be athletic. I thought the same way until I began to look at the clock time of these racing cyclists,” he explained.
This particular race is the 2013 Tennessee Senior Olympic Championship race for the 5 K Cycling Time Trial. If he medals, LaMacchia will automatically qualify for the next level of competition that will occur in the summer of 2014. The next official National Senior Olympics will be held in Minnesota in 2015.
“It’s difficult, but I really do enjoy it and I am competitive. I promised myself to go for a gold medal. Not silver or bronze,” he added.
Throughout his Senior Olympic training and race, LaMaccia wants to encourage personal donations to Redeeming Hope Ministries. Individuals can cheer him on with a “Cheer Donation” to Redeeming Hope Ministries. Personal “Cheer Donations” will go directly to help the homeless.
All personal donations can be sent via check to Redeeming Hope Minitries, C/O Eddie Young – Coordinator, 1642 Highland Ave, Knoxville, TN 37916. “Redeeming Hope is an organization with sound financial principles in which folks can contribute, trusting that donated funds will go directly to the homeless. My wife and I decided to seek 100% of all donations collected go directly to Redeeming Hope. I think this is very cool. And we will all be more blessed to give for this great cause,” he added. For more information visit Redeeming Hope Ministries online at www.redeeminghope.com.