Gillfillan’s Century Ride a Success, Raises Over $1750
By TOM KOCAL | Prairie Advocate News
To paraphrase Ringo Starr, Don Gillfillan got by with a little help from his friends.
In the September 12, 2012 issue (Gillfillan ‘Pays It Forward’) we told how Don Gillfillan found a way to combine raising money for a good cause with riding a bike. From Don’s perspective, the art of bicycle riding is not something he takes for granted, having contracted polio when he was 5 years old.
“As I was putting miles on my bike back here in the Northern Illinois hills, I realized if it were not for my Mom, St. Francis Hospital in Peoria, and the March Of Dimes, I would probably not be walking let alone riding a bike.”
That’s when he decided to take a Century Bike Ride for charity in his mother’s memory - a 100-mile ride with proceeds going to the Peoria St. Francis Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the Team Power Kidz Program at the Crossroads Church in Freeport.
“Jeff Furnia and I made the trip on Saturday, Sept. 22,” Don said. “We left the hospital at 6:45 a.m. and arrived in Watseka at 7:15 p.m. (very nearly dark). We rode just under 110 miles and averaged 12.3 mph of ride time, so that was exactly 9 hours on the saddle.”
Don said fortunately, the wind was out of the northwest and really strong at times, resulting in the duo having a nice tailwind to help push them along.
“We had to go north a couple of times and that was tough. Once we had to move from south to north of Rt. 24. That 4 mile adjustment was seriously hard, even though the road was flat. Another time we were looking for a road that the map showed, but we never found. We had to go farther north to catch a different country road.”
Jeff’s wife, Ellen, rode with them for nearly 50 miles. She was the official photographer. Don’s wife, Jan was the “supply driver,” keeping ahead of them in the car to meet at certain check points.
In spite of a relatively smooth ride, Don said there was only one “close call,” coming near the end of the ride at the 100 mile mark.
“Jeff and I were trying to get a picture of my odometer. We heard a car coming from the east, looked up and the car was coming across the center of the road right at us. The sun was directly behind us and nearly setting, so the guy could not see us at all. We both saw the driver was not looking at the road, but had his head turned and looking at the passenger in his vehicle.
“About 100 feet from us, the car moved back to the proper side of the road. The driver never did see us. It happened so fast, we did not have time to jump for the ditch, panic or anything else!”
When they reached Watseka, they were met by 10 family members. After a break for dinner they drove back to Peoria where they had a long nights rest.
“Neither of us had aches or pains after the ride, during the night, or the next morning. I was stunned. I thought I would have some serious pain after that much activity!”
Don added that presently, donations for Children’s Hospital of Illinois are $1350 and $400 for Team Power Kidz. I have been invited to come back to the hospital to meet staff I have been in contact with, present the funds to them, and get a tour of the Children’s Hospital.
“I hope to get into that old wing where I was treated so well.”
If you wish to support Don Gillfillan’s Century Ride and his effort to “pay it forward” in memory of his mother, please send your donation to:
226 S. Will St.
Lanark, IL 61046
If you would like more details or have any questions, please call 815-493-2684.