Nipomo firefighter returns from cross-country bike ride to raise money for sister

bcuddy@thetribunenews.comOctober 24, 2012 

John Byrne of Nipomo poses after cycling 2,500 miles on his way to the Brooklyn Bridge from the Golden Gate Bridge.

COURTESY PHOTO

Nipomo firefighter John Byrne will be back at work Thursday with his lungs and legs in top condition, after bicycling from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Byrne spent 36 days pedaling the 3,401 miles, in order to raise money for his 22-year-old sister, Lauren.

Lauren is a quadriplegic who wants to become independent, and Byrne raised enough to buy her a specialized automobile that will make it easier for her to go to college.

Not coincidentally, he also raised awareness along the route about spinal cord injuries.

As he made his journey, Byrne slept at fire stations, received police escorts here and there, was honored by the Navajo nation as a warrior, and had numerous encounters with citizens who helped him repair his bicycle.

“Every day, we saw amazing acts of kindness,” said Cal Fire Fire Capt. Mike DeLeo, who accompanied Byrne for the first five and the last seven days of his trek.

People would not only provide lodging, but sometimes would spontaneously donate money, occasionally when they were at a restaurant grabbing some chow, DeLeo said.

Both DeLeo and Lauren were at the Brooklyn Bridge when Byrne completed his journey Oct. 14.

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