Riding for a worthy cause

by Matt Snider

On September 15th, if the weather is right, Walter Zalis of Tituville, NJ, will hop on his bike in Bethlehem and ride over 100 miles to the Atlantic Ocean in a single day. He is doing this in conjunction with the Teal Tea Foundation to help their mission in raising awareness for ovarian cancer.

“I’m not a professional cyclist by any stretch of the word,” Walter said. “I’m 57-years-old. But I heard what the Teal Tea Foundation was doing and wanted to do more.”

By taking it a step further, Walter wanted to do more than just raise awareness for ovarian cancer, he wanted to raise money. With his love of biking and desire to put himself to the test mentally and physically, he came up with the idea to bike from the Lehigh Valley to the Atlantic Ocean in a single day.

“Biking has always been a passionate hobby of mine,” Walter said. “I knew what I loved and wanted to find a way to be able to apply that to help out people in need. I firmly believe if everyone can do something special to make someone’s life a little easier the world would be a better place.”

Although he has ridden long stretches before, what makes this ride different for Walter is that he is doing this for a great cause. He became a trustee with Teal Tea in January of 2017 at the suggestion of his wife. Since joining, he believed in the message and wanted to do more to raise awareness for a good cause.

“I went to a couple meetings with Teal Tea and got to see what they were doing,” Walter said. “I wanted to see if I could take this a step further.”

What initially started out as a goal of raising $1,500 in donations, quickly became $2,000, and then $3,000 and now $4,000. A goal that as of the end of August, they already surpassed.

“I expected a lot of small donations from people I knew. Especially being that we were spreading the word [about the event] primarily through social media and word of mouth,” Walter said. “After going through our goals we noticed that we were getting more and more donations from people we have never met or have known. The Mariott in Bethlehem even donated a room to me for the night before the race to rest up. Everyone just knows they have been donating to a great cause.”

Like the ride itself, he believes that getting the word out is the key to helping those in need.

“My hope is that the money raised can do two things. The first is being able to help the Teal Tea Foundation get its message out about ovarian cancer and all that they are doing. The second is that I hope it can be used to help those uneducated about ovarian cancer become informed, and in the same sense, get the treatment that they need.”

Although the ride to help those in need is on the 15th, Walter doesn’t plan on slowing down after.

The Teal Tea Foundation is hosting a 5K walk/run on the 17th that he doesn’t want to miss.

“I wanted to ride on either that Friday or Saturday because of the plans I have for the 5K on Sunday,” he said. “I already told them I wasn’t planning on running though but I could easily serve up hot dogs. After all, I might be just a little tired.”

PHOTO CAP: Walter Zalis