Schemmel pedals across U.S. for good cause

Rox broadcaster completes grueling bike race to raise funds for Haiti orphanage

Schemmel pedals across U.S. for good cause

DENVER -- In June, Rockies broadcaster Jerry Schemmel was simply happy to make it through the searing heat of California's desert and the constant rain that fell through Appalachia while he and triathlete Brad Cooper completed the cross-country Race Across America on their bicycles.

Now Schemmel is thankful for something grander than pride in completing the grueling race. He and Cooper were racing as Team Enduring Hope -- a project to raise funds toward the building of an orphanage outside of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. The goal was for donations connected to the racing effort to cover half the $100,000 needed to complete the project.

The project is being executed by Building Hope International, a Christian humanitarian organization that takes on projects in developing nations.

"We met our fundraising goal about three weeks ago, and ended up getting to about $52,000," said Schemmel, who said donations are still being accepted at the Team Enduring Hope Web site. "That feels really good. It was a challenge, not just the race itself, but all the details and logistics leading up to it -- the fundraising paperwork and sponsorship. It was a satisfying project that I won't forget real soon."

Schemmel does charity rides and other humanitarian projects to show his appreciation for life, something that came to light after he survived a 1989 plane crash that killed 112. This was the third cross-country bike race for Schemmel, who did it in 2005 and 2006, when he broadcast Denver Nuggets basketball games and the bike rides didn't overlap with his season. This time, he took time off from the KOA Rockies Radio Network. The Rockies' organization and fans followed his progress, and that helped raise donation money.

Schemmel said the race, during which he and Cooper rode an average of about 435 miles a day June 20-26, was painful at times. His bike temperature hit 122 in California's Mojave Desert, but he and Cooper had more water than he ever wanted toward the end of the race. Still, they won the two-person relay division with a time of seven days, 14 hours, 54 minutes.

"I think about some of the physical struggles," said Schemmel, who said he would like to return to the site of the proposed orphanage early in 2016. "Getting through the desert in California was tougher than we thought. The last two days, it would not stop raining, and we had 300 miles to go through the Appalachian Mountains. You can take rain, but that was relentless.

"But what I think about now is the idea that we had 20 people -- 18 on the crew and Brad and I on the bikes -- and we all had the same goal, all to get across the country as quickly as we could. We all had different jobs, and everyone did them without complaining about lack of sleep or anything. It was wonderful teamwork. We did it."

Schemmel was inspired when he saw television coverage of the 2010 earthquake, from which Haiti is still recovering. Schemmel saw the devastation himself when he visited the country last January. The orphanage will serve about 30 children with physical, mental and emotional needs.

Schemmel hopes to participate in another Race Across America in 2016.

"A good friend of my wife is a single-leg amputee, and she's always dreamed of joining the race as part of a team that I'd like to be a part of, but I have to get clearance from the station," Schemmel said. "She's looking at putting together a four-person team. I have another friend who is in a wheelchair, so it would be two of us able-bodied cyclists and two people in hand cycles. To be a part of something like that would be very rewarding."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.