Two local boys received new bicycles for Christmas, thanks to the generosity of people who supported a Bartholomew County native’s 3,000-mile cross-country charity bicycling trip.
Hartsville native Carter Forney, who raised the money to buy and assemble the BMX bikes, said the recipients were middle-school age from low-income families. One boy’s family is facing tight finances, and the other has a parent with a terminal disease.
Although Christmas is now past, at least from a calendar standpoint, the bicyclist’s philanthropy will continue. Forney said he and long-time friend Austin London of Hartsville plan to assemble two to four more more bicycles for children from families in need over the next few weeks.
When he returns in mid-January to his home north of Anchorage, Alaska, Forney hopes to continue obtaining and building new bikes for needy kids in the country’s most northern state, he said.
Story continues below gallery
Forney will use proceeds from his charitable ride — $2,100 raised toward an original goal of $2,500 — to purchase the bicycle kits for assembly and distribution.
“But since most of my donors live here in Bartholomew County, I wanted most of the bikes to go to kids in this area,” said Forney, a 2007 graduate of Hauser Jr.-Sr. High School.
While an avid outdoor enthusiast, Forney never had biked more than 50 miles in one day before beginning his two-month bike trip in early October. But after being inspired by books and articles, the son of Dave and Heidi Forney came up with an ambitious plan.
After setting a personal goal to ride his Surley touring bike on a solo cross-country trip — from the Pacific to the Atlantic — without any chase vehicle or tech support, Forney said he began to feel guilty about the adventure in front of him.
“I knew I was lucky to able to do this, but I also realized there are some who will never have a chance to have an adventure like this,” Forney said. “So I thought that if I’m going to be on the road, I’m going to help those less fortunate.”
Contemplating a number of charities, Forney decided to enlist the Bikes for Goodness Sake Foundation, which provides bikes to underprivileged children through corporate-sponsored, bike-build events.
After setting up a “GoFundMe” page and boxing up his Surley, Forney arrived on a plane in southern California and began assembled his touring bike at the San Diego airport.
Equipped with a lightweight tent, a Go Pro camera, a laptop for video blogging and a camping stove, Forney began peddling east Oct. 3 with the goal of completing his continental trek before Christmas.
The next eight weeks were spent “living life at 50 or 60 miles at a time,” either sleeping in a tent or with hospitable families, and eating from cans, convenience stores or whatever he found along the way.
Forney arrived at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, Florida, on Dec. 9, two weeks ahead of schedule, with his family there to cheer him on.
With the toughest part of the commitment behind him, Forney said he began to feel a bit overwhelmed after getting to his parents’ home in Hartsville about tasks yet to complete, including:
Getting the money from the “GoFundMe” account.
Transferring those funds to the Austin, Texas-based foundation
Working with the Toys For Tots organization to find identify recipients
Arranging shipping for the packaged bicycles and picking them up.
Bringing the boxed bikes to the Columbus Bike Co-op at the United Way building for assembly
Getting the bikes to the kids.
“The ride was fun, but these logistics keep me very busy,” Forney said. “I’m only in Indiana for a month. I also want to enjoy some holiday time with my family.”
When the last of the two Christmas-present bikes arrived Thursday, Forney and London were able to assemble it in about 45 minutes.
Beginning this week, more bicycles will be assembled for children in need before Forney returns to his seasonal jobs in Alaska. He is a firefighter and hiking trails builder with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, as well as a emergency medical technician in Talkeetna, Alaska, his home for the past six years.
The big-hearted Hartsville native said he has no regrets about investing so much time and energy on behalf of others during the giving season.
“It’s been totally worth it,” he said.
High school: Hauser Jr.-Sr. High, Class of 2007
Current residence: Talkeetna, Alaska, 114 miles north of Anchorage
Occupation: Natural Resources Technician with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.; emergency medical technician with the Matsu Borough EMS in Talkeetna
Family: Parents Dave and Heidi Forney of Hartsville; two adult siblings, Ryker and Jillianne
Donations to Carter Forney’s Cycling Coast to Coast for Bikes for Goodness Sake will continue to be accepted through at least mid-January.
To make a contribution, go to gofundme.com/2ky3gbsw