Last month, we reported on Tracee Gruskiewicz, an Austin Peay State University student who was walking across the country to raise awareness for the usage of therapy animals for people with disabilities, and also in the memory of Cole and Karen Ferguson. Tracee completed her run earlier this month.
Tuesday, another do-gooder came through Cadiz – Andre Block.
Andre is from Virginia and is cycling from Lynchburg, Va., to St. Louis, Mo., to raise funds for the Central Virginia Free Medical Clinic. Andre began riding in May and will hit the Gateway City in early September. Block said it all started when he was given a bicycle.
“I’m a full-time volunteer, and I’ve dedicated my life to helping others,” Block said. “I was given a bicycle while I was walking down the street in Lynchburg, I started riding and it just fit. I started riding every day.”
Turns out, the bike he was given was stolen. When he went to buy another bike, a friend jokingly suggested that the two of them should ride across the country.
“I said, ‘Let’s do it,’ and he said no, but I never backed out,” Block said.
The story continues to an incident in which Block nearly ran someone over when his brakes failed.
“I was training on this piece-of-crap bike every day with no money to get the bike I need for this trip,” Block said.
The man Block nearly hit listened to his story, and shortly thereafter, the man and his Bible study group began supporting Block in his effort.
“One of the guys sponsoring me is a dentist who volunteers at the medical clinic,” Block said. “I had heard so much about this clinic anyway, so I decided to help and give back.”
Another positive side effect of the trip is that Andre will get to visit his son in St. Louis.
“He’ll be able to say that his dad rode halfway across the country to see him,” Block said.
Block said he originally expected to get to St. Louis on Sept. 1 or 2, but once he learned his trip would take him through Land Between the Lakes, he expects to be delayed.
“It’s going to be so beautiful,” Block said of riding through LBL. “I’m probably going to want to stay an extra day.”
Block said the ride has been “the greatest adventure of my life,” leading him through areas he might not have otherwise seen and people he almost certainly would never have met.
“It has completely restored my pride to be an American,” Block said, noting the American flag he flies from the trailer behind his bike. Block said he ran out of money weeks ago and has been continuing on thanks to the kindness of the people he meets, including the folks at Knight’s Inn near Interstate 24 in Cadiz, who gave him a room free of charge Monday night.
“I haven’t had to worry about anything because America has taken care of me,” Block said. “It’s so overwhelming. Every day of this trip has been the greatest day of my life.”
Block said those interested in donating to the cause can call Bob Barlow at the Central Virginia Medical Clinic at 434-847-5866.
“I’ve come to the realization that if we can look past the negativity, we have the greatest people in America,” Block said. “It is so amazing.”
And so is Andre Block.
Justin McGill is general manager of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at email@example.com.