June 22, 2014

Kozlowski rode for the future

— For many of us, learning to ride a bicycle was a key part of our childhood, a step towards independence and part of exploring the world around us.

But for many children today, the bicycle is an alien instrument. Because of lack of money or maybe a fear of letting their children ride on local streets and roads without supervision, many parents today just don’t buy bicycles for their children.

But the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chattooga, Gordon, Murray and Whitfield Counties provides that experience that many parents cannot. At the club’s Dalton location on Underwood Street, boys and girls can not only learn to ride and bike, they can ride on their own mountain bike trail in a safe environment.

Derek Kozlowski has devoted a great deal of his time volunteering to help those youngsters learn both basic and advanced riding skills, and recently he took his efforts for the group to an entirely different level.

Kozlowski got back to Dalton late Tuesday night after spending almost a week of nearly nonstop bicycling for the 3,000-mile Race Across America. His goal was to raise awareness of and money for the Boys and Girls Clubs.

Robbie Slocumb, executive director of the organization, says they still don’t have a final total on how much Kozlowski raised because money is still coming in, but he says he expects it will be between $30,000 and $50,000.

The effort left Kozlowski physically battered. He was still recovering Friday when the Dalton club feted him with a cookout. But he said the ride was worth it.

“No matter how old you are, you can’t help but be a kid when you get on the bike,” Kozlowski said. “But unfortunately, for many kids these days it’s pretty common that they’ll never own a bike, never get to ride a bike. The Boys and Girls Club offers these kids an opportunity they might not otherwise get.”